For the adventurous and those already familiar with this tasty drink.
Vyritos (pronounced ‘viv-ee-tose or ‘veerh-ee-tose or vid-ee-tus) is a traditional Lithuanian drink.
And it is Oooh. Sooo. Good!
My husband grew up watching his parents make his dad’s family recipe for Vyritos, aka Lithuanian Grog. It’s an ambrosia of whiskey, orange juice and spices.
When I first tried making it, no one could find the recipe. My mother-in-law shared what she could recall. She described how she used to make it and related a couple of things she remembered tossing in. Next stop, the internet to find anything that sounded like it fit.
My first batch was pretty good, but not exactly what my husband’s family remembered. Back to the drawing board! With the help of my husband and his mom, I tweaked the next pot until a taste test that finally resulted in the words, “That’s it!”
Now, I get requests from family and friends for all kinds of
excuses purposes like birthdays (of which there are many in this family) and Christmas.
I don’t really consider Vyritos a booze. It’s more of a spiced whiskey that is meant to be sipped warm in small amounts. One ounce, heated up, will settle a headache, drive away cramps, clear congestion and transform “the blues” to a sunny day.
Feeling brave? Give this a try! It’s really very easy.
Before you begin, a few notes:
1) Mom says to use the cheapest whiskey you can find. I’ve tried both medium quality and cheap liquor. Mom is right. For some reason, the flavor and smoothness is better when you use the cheap stuff. Shrug! (I use cheap bourbon. Mom used cheap rye.)
2) Buying spices in bulk at a local organic market is much less expensive that buying a bunch of little bottles at the grocery store! Same for the raw honey.
3) Recap the liquor bottles after emptying them into the pot. You don’t have to wash them as long as they haven’t been contaminated. Set aside to be refilled with the seasoned Vyritos. Have 2 more clean bottles or quart mason jars available for any extra.
HOW TO MAKE VYRITOS (Lithuanian Grog)
Yield: approximately 5 to 5 1/2 quarts
What you’ll need …
4 1-liter bottles bourbon approximately 8 pints
2 1/4 cups raw honey
5 1/2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
1 3/4 teaspoons. whole black peppercorns
2 whole sticks cinnamon PLUS 5 additional whole sticks cinnamon to finish
7 to 11 whole allspice
4 cups orange juice
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Rind from 1/2 orange, pith removed
How to pull it together …
Put all ingredients into a stock pot and cover tightly.
Bring to a boil, making sure it doesn’t boil over. Uncover and let boil 5 minutes longer then immediately take off of the heat.
Stir and cover again.
Let sit for five days to one week, stirring occasionally, to meld the flavors. The longer it sits, the deeper and smoother the end result. Once a day, sample a spoonful until it’s rich and smooth to your liking.
When ready, strain the Vyritos through a fine sieve lined with two or three layers of cheesecloth. You will have roughly 4 quarts (16 cups, give or take) of liquid left.
To prepare the empty bottles that you’ve set aside, drop into each bottle:
• 2 to 3 peppercorns from the pot
• 1 stick of uncooked cinnamon
Using a funnel, transfer to the prepared bottles. Cap and store in a cool, dark cabinet or pantry.
When you want to raise a spicy toast, or you have a cold, or whatever else ails you, warm and serve 1 ounce per person. Sip until you feel better.
If you want to store or gift smaller portions, use twenty (20) 200-ml bottles of bourbon, instead of four (4) 1-liter bottles, and follow the above amounts and instructions. To prepare each flask, you’ll need about 10 sticks of cinnamon. Drop into each flask: 1 peppercorn and 1/2 stick cinnamon broken lengthwise (if too hard, then just snap them in half sideways)
So, what do you think? Do you have questions? Does your family have a traditional drink? PLEASE share in the comments below. Or on Nest Half Full’s FaceBook page.