Sbiten’ is a very traditional drink in Russia, possibly one of the oldest, with its roots deep in Russian culture. It can be sweet, spicy, or both, all depending on the recipe. Honey is the main ingredient for this heart- and body-warming winter drink, which is cooked with spices and jam. Its popularity has declined significantly with the increase in tea consumption, but is now being revived in the 21st century.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, blackberry jam, water or wine, and nutmeg, along with the mint leaves and chiles, if using.
- Slowly bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until the honey and jam are completely dissolved. Remove from fire.
- Let the sbites reduce to room temperature. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth, press on the solids and transfer to an airtight container or bottle. Cool and reheat when serving.