25 January 2009

Rituals

I think I may have finally figured it out. Why I always seem to suffer that annual letdown that comes officially on Jan. 2 but sometimes as early as Dec. 26th, the pit in your stomach, the relief wrapped in boredom that is to welcome the mundane after-party of the holiday season. Luckily this year, I had an elixir. A freelance gig that paid better than most, a newly painted living room and the active ingredient: a visit from some dear friends. Gerik and Annette were the perfect pair of guests because they were so relaxed, so happy with anything you decided to take them to and because they had some other friends around to show us fun that we sort of haven't seen since Philadelphia. Our time together involved milkshakes, people. And Brunch. But even though we did lots of things last weekend, there were these little beverages on Sunday evening made from Krupnik, a polish honey vodka, that nearly stole the show.

The flame was elusive, but these were in fact ablaze.

First of all, this honey vodka is not to be found just everywhere, which makes them fairly special. And they require a little effort, more than merely a sufficient pour, which elevates them yet further. To the husky shot, you add several beans of coffee and then light the alcohol on fire. The heat serves to mildly roast the beans, while it also infuses the drink so slightly with the flavor of the coffee. It will burn for several minutes and may even snuff itself out in time. After the flame is out, the top rim is squeezed with a wedge of lemon and then some into the drink as well. The result should be consumed while warm but by sipping, not shooting and the flavor is well, roasty. Powerful notes of a substantial proof with the caramel notes of a soft whiskey, I'd say. Though we had these on a mild January evening in California, they're more aptly suited to a colder climate.

Having them fixed so carefully at a real bang of a barbeque, amid a fair amount of bustle, made me remember what I used to really cherish about my time in Russia: the ritual of food and drink, the specific rules to be followed guiding their consumption and the absolute devotion to them shared by all. I owe my own experience of krupnik to Gerik and Annette's friend Ben, whose own time in Poland I'm sure guides this persuasion of his for ritual. I'd tell you to find some of the stuff to try for yourself, but what I would mean is, you should probably just find a Polish friend to make you one.

3 comments:

snake.the.cat said...

oh, yr too kind...
i just happened to see on tv the other night a spanish drink called queimada that is pretty much exactly the drink ben made. check it out, its kind of uncanny...

Emily said...

can we please make these drinks when ry and i come to visit?!

Mary Casper said...

I need to get some more shot glasses, but yes! I've been on a breaking spree lately.