HOLY WATER


Here's one I made earlier...

All right, it is a bit blasphemous; but even our more Christian friends can usually see the joke. The “holy water” in question is vodka infused with fresh hot chilli pepper. It's very easy to make, and it got its name because most people, when they try it, come up with something along the lines of “Good God Almighty!” or “Jesus Christ! What's that?” 


This is where you start. Every year, we try to grow hot peppers. Some years we get several. This year we got one. Holy Water seemed like a fitting use for it. You can of course use shop-bought peppers, whether red or green.


As well as a pepper, you need a bottle of 40 per cent vodka: the drop to 37.5% alcohol makes a disproportionate difference. We favour Lidl's Putinov, as in Putinov the agony, Putinov the style (apologies to Lonnie Donegan). Holy Water is a luxurious drink, but it need not be expensive. 


Sugar lumps are slightly bigger than the neck of the bottle, so a few grains of sugar will be shaved off as you push them in. We put the bottle in the sink while we are doing this.


Open the bottle; pour out a teaspoonful or two to make room for the other ingredients; push in a whole fresh hot pepper, liberally pricked with a needle or sharp fork. Push it all the way in; add a sugar lump, or a teaspoon of sugar. Replace the cap, carefully and tightly so it won't leak. If you used a sugar lump, waste a few seconds watching the sugar falling past the pepper.


Actually making the stuff is curiously pleasurable, and a lot better for you than drinking it.


Now turn the bottle upside down a couple of times. If at all possible, you want the whole pepper in the body of the bottle, but this is mostly an aesthetic decision: it will work adequately in the neck, though you may need to shake it a bit more often. Very fresh peppers should sink anyway. Shake the bottle every now and then until all the sugar is dissolved, then store the bottle at room temperature for anything from three days to a couple of weeks. Invert the bottle a couple of times whenever you remember, anything from twice a day to once every two or three days. Then, eventually, put it in the freezer. 


Sunk assets


Once it is cold, it is ready for drinking: ideally with zakuski; or as an appetizer on its own, with friends (you may need several bottles); or simply because you want to get drunk with a bit of style, preferably with at least one friend. Store it in the freezer and drink it in the Polish fashion: straight down from tiny shot glasses, preferably with a toast of na zdrowie (pronounced near enough “na zhdrovia”, Polish for “Cheers”). Thar's how men drink. Women are permitted to sip. 

We introduced some friends to this, and they decided that if one hot pepper was good, four or five would be even better. They wished they hadn't. The result was Holy Water Concentrate (or Holy Water Squash) which needed to be diluted with several times its own volume of vodka before you could drink it. Even our straight version is truly amazing in a Bloody Mary, and probably works well in other vodka-based cocktails too, but we are not great cocktail drinkers so you will have to experiment for yourself. It's a great chaser with overly hopped beers, too. 

Na zdrowie!


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Words and pictures copyright (c) 2016 Roger Hicks