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.
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.
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.