Viryta (Lithuanian Honey Liqueur)
“This is a sweet, very potent beverage that can be found at Lithuanian festivals and Lithuanian social clubs in Baltimore. They usually pronounce it ‘VIT-a-tis’. Viryta is usually homemade by descendants of Lithuanian immigrants, using recipes that have been handed down through the generations, and is a popular commodity around the holidays. It took me years to finally get someone to teach me how to make it; most of the people around Baltimore who make it are very secretive about their family recipes! I’d probably catch an earful if she knew I posted it online!”
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 1 pound honey
- 3 1/2 cups bottled water
- 3 cups white sugar
- 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 25 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 pints 190 proof grain alcohol
- Peel orange and lemon in a circular motion in a large strip. Place peels in a warm, dry area to dry for 24 hours.
- Stir honey, 1 cup water, sugar, caraway seeds, cloves, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg together in a large pot; bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add dried orange and lemon peels to honey mixture; continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat; discard fruit peels. Stir grain alcohol and remaining 2 1/2 cups water into honey mixture. Transfer mixture to a glass container and tightly cover with a lid. Place in a cool location out of direct sunlight and let set, gently swirling container every few days, for 1 week.
- Strain mixture through double-layered cheesecloth to remove sediment. Pour liqueur into bottles or decanters and seal.