A Christmas toast to my Lithuanian roots~ Check out hubby’s recipe for this hard-to-find Baltimore-Lithuanian Christmas liqueur classic…
Viryta is a sweet and potent holiday honey liqueur popular at Baltimore‘s Lithuanian gathering places. Fran sampled this holiday cheer years ago from a Lithuanian acquaintance of hers and described it to me. I wanted to try it. The truth is, it is hard to come by. You can’t buy it at a liquor store, and the one Lithuanian bar I heard that served it was out of it…
After much research, I discovered a recipe that claimed to be the real deal. After making it, I gave a small glass to Fran to see if it tasted like she remembered. Sure enough, it is exactly as she remembered it. For your holiday pleasure, I submit to you the recipe. But beware; this stuff is very potent~ it is made with grain alcohol (190 proof). Drink sparingly! Cheers. Tom~
3 sticks of bark cinnamon / 1 vanilla bean / 4 nuggets of fresh ginger / 1 nutmeg nut, cracked / 10 whole cloves / 10 whole allspice / 10 cardamom seeds / 1 teaspoon of caraway / 4 cups of water / 2 or 3 strips of orange peel / 2 or 3 strips of lemon rind / 32 ounces of honey / 1 quart of 190-proof grain alcohol (I used a 750 ml bottle of Everclear grain alcohol and a half pint of vodka)
Place the spices in a heavy pot with 4 cups of water and the fruit rind. Boil until liquid is reduced by half- about 2 cups. Strain through a fine screen or a funnel with cheese cloth. You may discard the spices or set aside for simmering potpourri.
Empty the honey into another heavy pot and bring to a boil. DO NOT leave it unattended, but stand and remove the thick foam that rises to the top with a slotted spoon. When the surface remains fairly clear, move the pot away from the stove (to prevent flare up when adding the alcohol)!
Pour the liquid mixture into the hot honey and stir. Add the alcohol and stir. Return the pot to the stove and heat on low (DO NOT simmer or boil), the mixture for 15 minutes. Keep the pot covered as much as possible to retard alcohol evaporation.
Remove from heat and let cool overnight in the pot. Keep a tight lid on it. The next day pour into bottles and allow enough time for any sediment to settle. You can decant the clear liquid into other bottles. Serve cold or at room temperature and enjoy.