While not quite mead, Sbiten is a honey-based drink that is quite popular in Russia and eastern Europe. Sbiten is most comparable to a mulled wine, and is generally served hot in the winter months. At its base, Sbiten is a water and honey mixture that is spiced up by boiling it with a collection of spices and adding jam to further sweeten it. It can be made alcoholic by swapping out red wine for the water. Occasionally a garnish or mint leaves or cinnamon sticks is added.
Sbiten was quite popular from the 12th century when it first made an appearance, up until the 19th century when tea and coffee started to take over.
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks, cracked in several pieces
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 16 ounces blackberry jam
- 10 1/4 cups water (or red wine)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 mint leaf
- 2 dried chili peppers
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan, and slowly bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently. When the honey and jam are completely dissolved, remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool, then strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. Squeeze the solids that get caught to get all the liquid. It can be refrigerated, and reheated to serve.