How to Make a Batch of Boilo - A Pennsylvania Holiday Beverage
Pennsylvania Christmas Punch - Home Brewed Boilo
Boilo (BOY-low) is a home made Yuletide cocktail that's a favorite drink in the eastern Pennsylvania Coal Region. Brewing up a batch of wassail-like boilo is a time-honored traditional event, rooted in the early mining communities and cultures of northeast Pennsylvania, especially the Schuylkill county area.
Boilo is based on grain alcohol or cheap whiskey mulled with fruits, cider and spices added to jazz it up and add interesting flavors. It's a best-served-warm holiday punch to which you add the alcohol AFTER you've heated all the spices and cider and removed the pan from the stove.
Some folks refer to boilo as "coal region nectar," "coal cracker punch" or the "champagne of the coal region." Everyone agrees on how you should drink boilo ... sip very slowly, because it's universally agreed that boilo can knock you off your feet. As with all cultural cocktails, variations on the recipe are abundant - feel free to improvise! Just remember to gently warm the finished boilo to serve it.
Despite its name, if you boil it you'll evaporate the alcohol and, as my tattered copy of this recipe version states, "if you boil it, you're an idiot."
Photo credit - bekathwia, Flickr
Make Your Own Moonshine - White Lightnin' User's Guide
Boilo purists insist that moonshine or grain alcohol makes the best boilo base. If you can't find either one, recipes suggest using cheap rye whiskey as a substitute ingredient.
Learn how make your own personal supply of moonshine.
Have You Ever Tasted Boilo? - Also known as "coal cracker" (coal miner) champagne
If you've ever had the good fortune to take a sip or several sips of boilo, you know it's a unique and warming experience.
Boilo - Have You Tasted Coal Cracker Champagne?
Home Distillery - Make Your Own Moonshine
Learn to concoct and brew home-distilled beverages.
Steel Brewing Pot with Glass Lid - Use to warm up your boilo with spices and spirits
A large stainless steel pot is ideal for mixing and heating boilo.
Glass cover lets you keep boilo warm after it's ixed.d and mixed. Don't put alcohol into your boilo until you remove it from the stove!
There are dozens of different recipes for boilo, each one customized by generations of coal-cracker-brewmeisters. Thie recipe for boilo that's in our cookbook came to me via my husband's co-workers. The company president serves this to employees on the final work day before Christmas ...
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: Many or few, depending on tolerance
- 1/2 gallon orange juice
- 1 quart water
- 1/2 gallon grain alcohol (or cheap whiskey like 4 Roses)
- 3/4 quart honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 oranges cut into wedges/slices
- Combine all ingredients except the alcohol in a large kettle or stew pot. Boil for a few minutes, cool slightly and strain.
- Bring strained mixture to a gentle boil again; strain once more.
- After strained mixture cools down, add the alcohol. Before drinking, warm your boilo, but don't boil or you will evaporate the alcohol.
- Our faded copy of the local recipe actually says this: Yes, it's called boilo but if you boil it with the alcohol it will evaporate and you're an idiot.
- NEVER ADD THE ALCOHOL TO THE BOILO WHILE IT IS COOKING or NEAR FLAMES. SEVERE FIRE DANGER!
Boilo Recipe History
Moonshine Base with Citrus and Spice
Wassail photo by jeremytarling, FlickrBoilo is one of the oldest alcoholic concoctions to hail from Pennsylvania's Northeast region coal country. Boilo is a "home-brewed" blend of alcohol, honey, fruits, juice and spices whose popularity is second only to the lager crafted and bottled in Pottsville by America's oldest brewery, Yuengling (YING-ling). Recipes vary slightly from one home to another, but each one uses the same basic ingredients. Many boilo recipes have been handed down for generations and their exact ingredients are a family secret.
Boilo recipes were originally developed using moonshine as the alcohol base but more recently the favored spirits for this citrus-spiced beverage (served hot, like wassail) is high-proof low-grade whiskey. Boilo is meant to be served warm ... and can get you really fired up if you're not careful!
Wassail Photo Credit:topdrawersausage, Flickr
Warning - Fire Hazard
NEVER ADD THE ALCOHOL TO THE BOILO WHILE COOKING.
Turn off heat and remove pan from hot stove.
Kitchen Safety - Fire Extinguisher
Boilo is made with alcohol but you should never add the liquor to the pot while it's on the stove or near an open flame. It's also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, even if you don't concoct a batch of boilo.
How to Make Boilo
The recipe, the brewmistress and the imbibers all share with you a look at how to make boilo, the traditional coal cracker's holiday punch ...
Beaucoup Boilo - Recipes & Folklore - Blend, Simmer, Cool Slightly, Drink Up
For such a humble beverage there are many variations on the basic boilo recipe. All boilo recipes use grain alcohol or whiskey, honey, spices and fruits. Contrary to the name, you shouldn't boil the brew once the alcohol is in the mix, or you'll distill out all the booze.
Some recipes recommend adding the whiskey after simmering the rest of the ingredients, then letting the whole batch cool down before bottling. All recipes caution about the danger of adding so much alcohol while the pot is on the stove - even the fumes can actually cause a fire hazard, so be very careful.
- Apple Pie Boilo
Feaston's recipe and directions (complete with great photos) about how to make Apple Pie boilo - complete with a bit of cultural commentary.
- New York Cork Report: Boilo: Champagne of the Schuylkill County Coal Region
by Tom Mansell, Science Editor Nothing scientific about today's post. After all, there's really nothing scientific about a recipe... unless it involves careful record keeping and experimentation, which it almost never does. Anyway, if your family is
- Holiday Drink - Boilo
Official holiday drink of the coal mine region in eastern Pennsylvania, especially Schuylkill County.
- Cookbook: Boilo - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks
Boilo is a traditional Yuletide drink of the northeastern United States, specifically Pennsylvania's coal region.
- XYZ Recipes: Boilo - Yuletide drink of the Coal Region
How to concoct boilo: two methods, stove top boilo and crock pot boilo.
- TastyBrew.com | Forum | Boilo Anyone?
TastyBrew is an on-line homebrew recipe database and homebrewing resource. This entry offers a simple recipe for Apple Pie boilo, made with a cider and spice base.
- S.N.A.B.U.: BOILO... Nectar of the Godz!
In my area of Pennsylvania there is a traditional winter drink that is produced by local residents call BOILO... the kind of drink that can soothe a winter cold, take the chillout of your bones after shovelling snow, or ... Everyone has their own rec
Home Made Moonshine
© 2010 Lee Hansen