What began as a secret recipe for a Lithuanian spirit has become a popular craft beverage made in the Hudson Valley.
Krupnikas is a sweet, alcoholic drink beloved in Lithuania and Poland and infused with local honey and an array of warm spices like vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and saffron. Kestutis (Kas) Katinas, a Brooklyn-ite of Lithuanian background, had his own version of the beverage — a family recipe that he served at holidays and special occasions.
In 2013 Katinas decided it was time to declassify the cherished family recipe his mother passed on to him, and founded KAS Spirits.
The Hudson Valley, where Katinas and his wife, Marushka Osman, moved full-time in 2002, seemed like the perfect place to expand. “This is home to us,” says Osman. “It is an area that really supports locally made products.” In 2014, the first bottles appeared on the shelves of bartenders and shop owners.
â€‹Krupnikas has a taste specific to its familial roots as a small-batch, artisanal spirit. “You do have a full-on liquor and a vast flavor profile that can be enjoyed neat or in a mixed drink,” explains Osman. “It is an honest, handcrafted family recipe.”
Like its flavor, Krupnikas has a rich history. Legend holds that the spirit was first created in the 1500s by Benedictine monks and has persevered even through the Soviet Union’s attempts to cease its production. The safekeeping of these recipes passed down by families through generations helped Krupnikas survive and flourish. Traditionally, Krupnikas is reserved for holidays and weddings.
KAS Krupnikas is bottled and labeled by hand, and can be found throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Check their website www.kasspirits.com for suggested cocktail recipes, like the Satin Slippers cocktail featuring lavender syrup, vodka, rhubarb bitters, and egg whites, or The Smoking Bee with Mezcal and lemon juice.