Tsar Pyotr Veliki decreed that the owners of Russian post house inns had to have at least 5 quarts (a little less than 5 litres) of this traditional drink available in the cellar for frozen travellers.
Many people think that horseradish is the archetypical Russian spicy-aromatic plant. From 1500 BC, people used it to make the strongest and most spicy condiments. Most folks believed that it not only stimulated the appetite, but also activated vital forces (that is, it was “randy goat weed”). Doctors used it to make rheumatism ointments as well.
Horseradish was the most popular condiment amongst all the Slavic peoples. Gradually, it moved throughout Europe. At first, only the simple people ate it, workers and peasants, then, the “better” people started to add it to daintier dishes such as oysters and meat. Besides this, people used horseradish to flavour strong drinks; they often mixed it with wormwood and costmary. Innkeepers gave it to tired travellers to help them recover from the rigours of their journeys.
Horseradish Vodka is easy to prepare at home. For this simple process, one will need:
- 1 litre vodka (the good stuff, please, no potato squeezin’s)
- 200-300 grammes (8-10 ounces) horseradish
- 50 millilitres (a little over 3 tablespoons) honey (Flower honey is best, as it gives more colour)
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1 bud cloves
Wash and slice the horseradish, and warm the honey in a small pot over low heat. Put the horseradish into a bottle, then, pour the warm honey over the horseradish. Add the cloves and the peppercorns. Pour in half of the vodka and shake the corked bottle thoroughly to thoroughly mix the ingredients.
When the vodka and honey are well mixed together, pour the rest of the vodka into the bottle. Shake the bottle a bit more to combine everything, and place it in a dark cool place for at least three months. Good proper horseradish vodka should even be aged for at least six months, for such a period is required for the drink to become smooth, transparent, and very healthy. Zalpom!