If you’re feeling Holiday Stress, this will probably make you even more anxious. According to a new survey, Peak Holiday Stress occurs on December 18th. In other words, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So how do people cope with the stress this season brings? Some overdo it on sweets and unhealthy food, but alcohol is still the #1 answer.

With that in mind, let my share my recipe for a holiday elixer known as Boilo. According to Wikipedia, Boilo is a traditional Christmas or Yuletide drink in the Coal Region of northeastern and east central Pennsylvania, which is where I’m from. There are a number of varieties and many families have their own recipes but the common threads are that you serve it warm, it’s good for what ails you in the wintertime and if you’re not careful it will take the legs right out from under you.

If you’d care to try it, here’s the formula I came up with after years of tinkering…

In a 5 ½ quart croc-pot on high heat


  • ½ cup water (Ginger Ale or Sprite may also be used)
  • 12 oz Honey

Cook for ½ hour, to let the honey thin


  • 5 Cups Orange Juice
  • 8 Cups Apple Cider
  • 2 Cups Lemon Juice
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cloves
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 3 Tablespoons Cinnamon Extract
  • 4 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Raisins
  • Sprinkle in 1-2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice or Nutmeg

Stir, Let it simmer on high for 1 hour


  • 1 sliced orange
  • 1 sliced apple—I prefer Gala or Gravenstein

Lower heat to low and let it simmer for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally

Taste, and adjust recipe to your liking, stir and simmer for another 30-60 minutes

Remove heat

Add the booze

  • Fifth of Whiskey (I prefer Black Velvet, some use 4 Queens. Nothing too expensive, since you’re trying to hide the flavor, anyway)
  • 1/3 of a fifth of 151 (or Everclear or moonshine)
  • 1 Cup of Firewater


Strain and serve in a hot shot glass or coffee cup. If I’m storing it in Mason Jars, I’ll add a shot of Segrams before I pour in the boilo.