Sunday, June 28, 2009

Redeye (Wedding Schnapps)

There are a lot of great things to do during the summer in North Dakota, but if it's Saturday night, you'll find everyone at wedding receptions. This is especially true in small towns, where everyone goes to the reception, regardless if they were formally invited or not.

Expect to be feeding 400-500 people if you are having a small town ND wedding. That's just how it goes.

Yes, this a snapshot from our wedding. First dance. "Stand By Me." I still love that song.

I guess North Dakota is one of those places where people still get married. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for co-habitation if that's your bag (hey, anything Goldie and Kurt do is cool with me), but in general, Dakotans are still pretty traditional. I mean, legally stores can't even open until noon on Sunday, and the community really really appreciates it when young people commit to each other with formal ceremonies.

Or maybe the community just likes a good party. And no ND wedding reception would be complete without a bottle of redeye.

Redeye is a wedding staple, basically sweetened Everclear. It's a German heritage thing. However, full disclosure, we didn't have it at our wedding reception (*gasp*). I actually had to convince my parents that it would be a bad idea to have redeye at our reception since we already had an open (and free) bar, manned by some great cousins who didn't mind spending an evening playing bartender.


Call me crazy, but passing around a bottle of hard liquor in addition to the bar seemed like a little too much encouragement to get plastered, knowwhatimean?

Just like Italian families all have their own marinara recipe, ND families all have their own redeye recipe. Here is ours, courtesy of my mom, a recent retiree who decided that redeye shouldn't be limited to just weddings and breaks out a bottle while pontooning with friends.

Do all parents go crazy like this in retirement while their offspring become the responsible grown-ups?

I copied it straight from the email she wrote to me. I love my mom.

Redeye (Wedding Schnapps)

Here it is. You'll need 5 or 6 bottles for a full recipe. If you need empty liquor bottles, let me know. I'm sure I can scrounge some up from your brother's closet. :)

2 2-liter bottles 7-Up
1 1-liter bottle Everclear
1/2 bottle, 750 ml, creme de almond

Mix all together slowly. Keep mixing while filling bottles.
Optional: add maraschino cherries.

1/2 recipe: 750 ml Everclear to 1 1/2 bottles 7-Up.

8 comments:

Lora said...

My mother began warning me about drinking the red eye at weddings when I was quite young. I drink it anyway.

The Leftoverist said...

I knew absolutely nothing about ND before discovering your blog. I LOVE reading about regional things like this. Have you gone back to work yet?

Ruth said...

wow. just wow.

my husband and i have attempted to describe this tradition to people in cincinnati and chicago. no such luck. from now on, i'll refer them to this post.

seriously, really enjoy your blog! keep it coming!

hollywhite@comcast.net said...

Only growing up in North Dakota would one understand the impact of Redeye!!!!!!! I remember going to hundred's of wedding dances and the schinkers passing out the Redeye! My Mom brought some to Colorado Springs when I got married in 1998 and it was a hit for some and others thought we were CRAZY!!!!!! My Mom makes it with Strawberry Crush and it's oh so tasty and keeping the North Dakota tradition alive!

tamsyshi said...

This is not the same redeye recipe that i have had at weddings. There is another recipe that is made with burnt sugar. If anyone has this on please send it to tamsyshi@yahoo.com. Thanx

ian said...

It goes like this: First you burn (carmelize) 2½ cups of sugar in a big, heavy skillet or pot. To this you add 4 cups of water, dissolving the caramel. (You'll have to stir and crush it; I use a wooden spoon.) Then add 2 more cups of sugar, 9 more cups of water, and bring it all to a boil.

Let the mixture cool, and pour in a liter of Everclear. Throw in a handful of stars of anise.

I let the red-eye season in a crock for a month or so before drawing it off into bottles; otherwise it tastes too much like rubbing alcohol. The color of the finished drink is reddish brown. It is heavily sweet.

Cam said...

My Grandfathers Recipe for Red Eye is somewhat like Ian's...

I use: 1 Liter of 190 Everclear, 2 cups sugar and 5 cups of hot water.

You melt the sugar slowly in a pan. Stir it constantly so it doesn't burn, it will turn a nice amber shade, kinda like caramel. Slowly, and I mean slowly, add the hot water and stir, once cool, take the liter of everclear and pour half into another empty liter bottle, strain and filter the mix into the two bottles, then shake the living crap out of them. You can add any flavorings you want, but I like it on its own. Drink right away or to get a really hearty flavor, let this age for a month.

His Recipe equals about 80 Proof, which is a hell of a stiff drink, hence the name, Red Eye!

Beth R+V said...

I love the "real" redeye recipes posted here! My fam is lazy - melting the sugar is the ultimate way to go!