I’m a reformed ice fisherman. Reformed as in I don’t spend nearly every waking winter moment either on the hard water or planning for my ice-fishing trip like I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to sit on a frozen lake hoping to pull a big fish through a small hole (which sounds like a metaphor for my current career). I just don’t get out there as much these days. When I was an ice angler, I liked to take along a little nip to keep me warm, usually a bottle of Dr. McGillicuddy’s Mentholmint Schnapps.
Not only did having a bottle nearby keep me warm, offering a sip to newfound friends (ice fishing is, more so than most angling endeavors, a social affair) was a great way to, shall we say, break the ice. That usually led to inside information on what was biting and where. Alcohol is, after all, the greatest social lubricant of all.
In doing a bit of reading lately, I discovered a new drink popular among ice fisherman, especially those in the northeast and in particular, Pennsylvania’s coal country. It’s called boilo. An Americanized version of an old Lithuanian cordial, boilo is a homemade concoction formerly (and sometimes currently) made with high-test grain alcohol and a variety of fruit and spices. It sounds a lot like what we call “apple pie.” Until recently, I’ve never heard of boilo, so I’m wondering if any Wild Chef readers have experienced the elixir. With the subfreezing temperatures covering most of the country, I think a batch of it may be in order. Here’s the recipe I’ll be basing my batch on.