Holiday Punch

DrinkHolidayCocktail

Here's a festive holiday punch that's fit for a crowd! We make it with cranberry juice, orange juice, bourbon, and hard cider, though we include a non-alcoholic version so kids to enjoy, too.

Photography Credit: Garrett McCord

Want an easy cocktail for your New Year’s party without playing bartender all night? Punch is the perfect solution.

A good punch mixes together spirits, juice, and spices in a communal bowl with a ladle for filling up the cups. Guests serve themselves, and you can relax and enjoy the night as the glamorous doyenne you know you are.

Holiday Punch

A PUNCH WITH HOLIDAY SPIRIT

This punch is a particular favorite of mine. It brings together winter flavors such as cranberry, orange, and cinnamon in a delightful drink that leaves you glowing with cheer.

I’ve included both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the recipe below. If you want to give the alcoholic version even more of a kick, replace one or both cups of the hard cider with applejack or apple brandy.

Most punches use ice molds to keep things cold. I simply chill the individual ingredients overnight, and then mix everything together right as the party starts. Keep a bucket of ice nearby so guests can chill and dilute their drinks as they see fit.

WHICH ALCOHOL TO BUY

For the bourbon in this recipe, we like Bulleit. It’s available at most liquor stores and an affordable option. If you want to go top-shelf for your holiday party, try Knob Creek.

For the hard cider, you have two choices: dry hard cider or semi-sweet hard cider, which should be stated on the label. (If it’s not stated, you can generally assume the cider is semi-sweet.) A dry hard cider will be less sweet and more tart, while a semi-sweet hard cider will have more of a sweet flavor.

Either kind of cider will work in this recipe, so choose the flavor profile you tend to like best. Look for local ciders in your area; otherwise Angry Orchard and Crispin are both good-quality and available nationally.

Similarly, ginger beer can range from sweet and mildly-gingery to quite spicy and sharp. It’s not always clear on the label which way different brands lean, so you might need to do some experimenting to find which one you prefer. If in doubt, ask a store employee for recommendations or read reviews online.

Holiday Punch

WAYS TO ADAPT THIS RECIPE

This basic punch recipe is ripe for adaptation. Here are a few ideas:

  • Switch up the spice: Instead of (or in addition to) the cinnamon sticks, try slices of fresh ginger, a few whole cloves, or some star anise. You could also add a small pinch of grated nutmeg to the top of each glass before serving.
  • Add other fruit: Slices of blood oranges would be a great addition to this punch. You could also turn this into more of a sangria with bits of apple, a handful of fresh cranberries, and/or sliced pear.
  • Play with the alcohol: Instead of bourbon, try rye whiskey or rum.

Looking for more ideas for holiday cocktails?

Updated December 14, 2018 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the recipe.

Holiday Punch Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Chilling time: 6 hours
  • Yield: 15 or so servings

This cinnamon syrup makes more than you'll need for this punch. Use the extra in cocktails, coffee, or hot chocolate. It will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Ingredients

For the cinnamon syrup (makes about 2 cups):

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

For the punch (alcoholic version):

  • 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger beer
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 bottles hard cider
  • Orange and lime slices for garnish

For the punch (non-alcoholic version):

  • 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger beer
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • Orange and lime slices for garnish

Method

1 Make the cinnamon syrup: Place the sugar, water, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Pour into a bottle or other container and cool. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Holiday Punch

2 Refrigerate the punch ingredients: Refrigerate all punch ingredients for at least 6 hours, or overnight, so they are chilled before serving.

3 Make the punch: Mix 1/3 cup cinnamon syrup with all the punch ingredients in a large punch bowl, stock pot, or other container. Stir together and serve immediately.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett

7 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sarah

    This sounds great! Thanks for including both versions. Any recommendations for brand of bourbon?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Sarah! I like Bulleit for a not-too-expensive-but-not-too-cheap option, or Knobb Creek if you really want to go all out. :)

  2. Jules

    If I was to have the alcohol on the side…what would the ration of bourbon and hard cider be?
    Thank you! looks delicious!

    • Emma Christensen

      Jules, to make things easy on you, I’d just do equal parts bourbon and cider, and then do 1/4 to 1/3 cup per glass topped with punch. (Of course, even easier would be to let guests add bourbon or cider to their own tastes, but then who KNOWS what trouble they’ll get up to?! :) )

  3. Leanny Oliveira

    i love it! So delucious!

  4. Maria

    Made this for a birthday party last night, and it was so good!

  5. Sara @ Last Night's Feast

    This looks so festive and delicious

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