It might just be me, but I think holiday punches are underrated. I honestly don’t remember the last Christmas party or New Year’s shindig I attended that served punch. Maybe I’m going to the wrong parties.
I’m changing that this holiday season and serving up this easy party punch recipe…at not one, but two parties on the same day! I’ll serve it as-is at our daytime gathering for a festive, family-friendly drink. For our evening party with neighbors, I’ll provide a couple spirit options for our guests to mix their own cocktails. This non-alcoholic punch recipe is going to be my solution for pleasing all the party-goers!
The bonus…a large punch bowl filled with the perfect holiday drink and festooned with seasonal fruit and garnishes makes an instant centerpiece and imparts extra holiday spirit!
Ingredients & Substitutions for a Festive Drink
- Cranberry juice cocktail – or cranberry juice blend (like cran-apple or cran-pomegranate). You can also use unsweetened cranberry juice for a less sweet punch. Pomegranate juice is a great substitute.
- Pineapple juice – if you have an aversion or allergy to pineapple juice, simply replace it with cranberry juice or OJ.
- Orange juice – you can swap this citrus for grapefruit, tangerine, or blood orange juices. The latter two are easier to find during the holiday / winter season.
- Aromatic garnishes – cinnamon sticks, star anise, fresh rosemary sprigs.
- Sparkling apple cider – or sparkling apple or grape juice.
- Ginger beer – this adds a lovely, spicy effervescence. If it’s not for you, swap it for ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. To scale back on the sweetness, you can use club soda or a flavored sparkling water.
- Fresh garnishes – orange slices and fresh cranberries (or frozen). Pomegranate seeds also make for a festive garnish, whether or not you use that juice.
How to Make Delicious Holiday Punch
Most of the work (if you can call it that) is done hours ahead making this a great party-ready recipe.
- In a large pitcher or container that will fit in your refrigerator, combine the fruit juices with cinnamon sticks, star anise and rosemary. Chill for several hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, transfer the juice mixture and aromatics to a punch bowl or beverage dispenser. Pour in the sparkling cider and ginger beer, then float slices of orange and cranberries on top.
- Adjust the sweetness – If you opt for unsweetened or less sugary juice options, you can adjust to your personal preference by adding simple sugar syrup. Dissolve one part white sugar (or honey) in one part water in the microwave or in a saucepan, then cool. Stir a few tablespoons at a time into the punch until it reaches your desired level of sweetness. You can also flavor the simple syrup with orange peel, rosemary, a cinnamon stick, a knob of ginger, or star anise (one or any combination of those) – I recommend using the stovetop method for this option.
- Keep it chilly – For best results, also refrigerate the sparkling cider and ginger beer before the final assembly so all the ingredients are cold. I prefer to provide an ice bucket for individual servings rather than add ice to the punch bowl and risk watering it down, especially for a single batch. However, if you’re scaling up this punch and need to keep it chilly, consider using two or three extra large ice cubes or make an ice ring (these melt slower).
- Adults only – Of course, you can always turn this into an alcoholic holiday punch recipe. For a light-on-the-booze libation, substitute the sparkling juice with sparkling wine and 1/2 cup of the ginger beer with ginger liqueur; or omit the ginger beer and use all sparkling wine. Alternatively, add a shot of your favorite spirit to individual servings of punch.
Scale It Up!
Because this punch is made with one part of each of the five liquid ingredients, it’s an easy recipe to scale to fit the size of your punch bowl or drink dispenser!
The original recipe makes 10 cups / 80 ounces of punch (plus garnishes) and will easily fit in a 1 gallon vessel.
Determine the volume of your punch bowl or drink dispenser in cups (accounting for a little space for fruit garnishes and/or ice). Then, use the serving size field in Plan to Eat to adjust the number of servings – simply change the number 10 to the amount of cups you need. Easy!
Linda Feller has been a Plan to Eat superfan since 2013 and will whip out the app to share with anyone who expresses the least bit of interest. She is a recipe developer, food photographer and the gal behind Sip + Sanity, recipes for entertaining and celebrating.
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You'll want to chill the mixed juices for a few hours, as well as the sparkling elements...those you'll add just before serving. Otherwise, it comes together in a matter of minutes!
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 10 min
Yield: 10 cups (80 oz)
- 2 cups cranberry juice or pomegranate
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 2 cups orange juice or tangerine, blood orange, grapefruit
- cinnamon sticks
- star anise
- fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 cups sparkling apple cider / juice or grape (chilled)
- 2 cups ginger beer or ginger ale, lemon lime soda (chilled)
- orange slices
- fresh cranberries and/or pomegranate seeds
- simple syrup (optional)
- Combine cranberry, pineapple and orange juice in a pitcher or jar that will fit in your refrigerator. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise and rosemary. Chill. (Do this step in the morning or night before and assemble the rest in your punch bowl just before serving.)
- Transfer the chilled juices and garnishes to a punch bowl or drink dispenser. Add sparkling apple cider and ginger beer. Float orange slices and fresh cranberries on top.
- (Depending on the juices you choose or your taste preferences, you can sweeten the punch with a 1:1 simple syrup. Dissolve 1 part white sugar (or honey) in 1 part water in the microwave or in a saucepan, then cool. Stir a few tablespoons at a time into the punch until it reaches your desired level of sweetness.)