Boilo is a traditional alcoholic beverage that will keep you warm on those long winter nights — and keep a coal mining tradition alive.
We love to keep traditions alive… Especially ones that involve alcohol of any kind.
However, here’s a tradition you might not have heard of.
Boilo (BOY-low) is one of those amazing recipes that has been passed down from generation to generation. The alcoholic punch originated in the coal region of Eastern Pennsylvania and is traditionally served during the winter holiday season.
Every boilo maker has their unique recipe, and every boilo making is SURE their recipe is the best. The basics of the recipe are generally the same, but every version differs slightly in ingredient quantities or flavouring, with perhaps a “secret” ingredient or two thrown in there.
The History of Boilo
An invention of Lithuanian immigrants, boilo shares ingredients with krupnikas, a traditional spiced honey liqueur that’s been consumed in Lithuania and Poland for centuries. The beverage is also closely related to viryta, a drink popular in Baltimore. “Viryta” is derived from the Lithuanian word for “boil” or “cook.”
The coal miners used boilo for everything from warding off the common cold to giving as a gift around the holidays. Mining was a tough job, so finishing a long day with a strong drink became a cherished routine.
Characteristically, the standard recipe includes citrus fruits (like oranges and lemons), herbs and spices (such as nutmeg, cloves, caraway seed, and anise), and other ingredients like honey and ginger ale.
Traditionally, the base ingredient in boilo is moonshine. However, today’s boilo makers often swap the potent alcohol for Four Queens, an inexpensive blended whiskey distilled in Scobeyville, NJ.
Our recipe is going to use both.
Make Your Own Moonshine from the Comforts of Home
Making moonshine at home is certainly not a new pastime. However, it is steadily growing in popularity. High proof alcohols are becoming more readily available in quality liquor stores and more and more people are loving the extra bite a little moonshine can add to a cocktail.
While the hit Discovery show Moonshiners may show the art of moonshining as a backwoods operation, in reality, making moonshining is a fairly straightforward process once you get the three steps down.
Check out our complete How to Make Moonshine guide.
The Best Equipment for Making Moonshine
When it comes to making moonshine, arguably the most important elements are temperature, time, and a really great still. At How to Moonshine, we offer great all-in-one kits that combine a fermentor and a still to make starting the moonshining process easy and affordable.
Our Blue Ridge Still combines a fermentor with a still with a thump keg. Using a thump keg is an ideal way to produce quality spirits with less effort. It makes the process of distilling spirits easier and yields better results.
Not only does the Blue Ridge produce delicious moonshine, but it is also easy to put together both as a fermentor and a still. It also comes complete with a hydrometer and a water pump. This all in one kit really makes it easy to get started making quality moonshine from the comforts of home.
Boilo makes a great gift, and pairs perfectly with any holiday party.
I am going to teach you how to make the most classic boilo recipe. Feel free to add your own flair and flavour — or any “special” ingredient — to make this recipe your own!
Moonshine Boilo Recipe
I love to keep traditions alive. It’s even better when those traditions involve alcohol of any kind. Try this basic boilo recipe for your next holiday party, or add your own flair and flavour and give it as a gift to friends and family.
2 cups of honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small box (snack size) of raisins
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp whole allspice berries
12 whole cloves
1 litre ginger ale, orange/apple juice or water (your choice)
750 ml Four Queens Whiskey (or any other cheap, blended whiskey)
750 ml moonshine
Cut the oranges and lemons into quarters. Squeeze the quarters to release the juices into a crock pot or large pot on the stove, and then throw the fruit (peel and all) in as well. Add the liquid of your choice and remaining ingredients EXCEPT the whiskey.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and then lower heat and let simmer for four hours.
Strain the fruit and mulling spices from the rest of the liquid.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before adding the moonshine and whiskey of your choice.
Transfer boilo to mason jars and store in a cool, dry place.
Boilo can be served warm or cold, depending on preference.
- Add or swap fruits and spices to suit your preference.
- Four Queens is the traditional choice of Pennsylvania boilo makers, but if you cannot get this where you live, any cheap, blended whiskey will do (but we recommend using at least 80 proof).
- If you prefer a non-alcoholic version due to preference or inclusion of minors, replace the alcohol with ginger ale or another liquid of your choice. Store this version in the refrigerator immediately upon cooling and place it in containers.
- Make sure you cool the mixture entirely before adding the alcohol. Adding alcohol to very hot or boiling liquid will cook off the alcohol defeating the entire purpose of boilo — don’t boil your boilo!
Calories 988, Carbs 103 grams, Protein 3 grams, Sodium 15 milligrams, Fiber 12 grams, Sugar 81 grams