Cheery Punch Recipes for Holiday Entertaining


punch recipes

If you set out a few bottles of beer and wine, it’s a get-together. “Put out a punch,” says Jonathan Forester, bar and cocktail consultant at the new Polpettina in Larchmont, “and it’s a party.”

Forester shared three of his favorite punch recipes with us, perfect for serving cocktails to a crowd. A punch bowl can become a centerpiece, a beacon for thirsty guests and a respite for weary hosts. Plus, drinking punch is fun!

Rum Spice Punch

Yield: 14 to 16

Serving Size: 4-ounce


  • 2 1/2 cups (21 ounces) El Dorado 8- and/or 12-year-old Demerara rum from Guyana (or other premium, aged rum)
  • 2 teaspoons Angostura or other nice bitters
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) water
  • 1 heaping cup (9 ounces) Spice syrup No. 9 (recipe below)
  • Oleo-Saccharum (recipe below)
  • Reserved citrus peel for garnish


  1. Mix ingredients well and let sit for a 5-10 minutes, then add additional sugar to taste if needed. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill well for several hours. The flavors will intensify and round out. Serve in a punch bowl filled with 1 large ice block. Try to make sure at least one piece of citrus peel is in each cup as garnish.

Spice Syrup No. 9


  • 1 dry measuring cup white cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) Ceylon cinnamon
  • 2 1/3 teaspoons (11 grams) Vietnamese cassia (cinnamon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 grams) allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 grams) nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) green cardamom seeds (not pods/shells)
  • 1 whole, small, star anise pod
  • 1/2 tablespoon (1/4 ounce) vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons (4-14 grams total) additional spices or herbs of choice, including mace, ginger, pink peppercorns, Szechuan pepper, anise, poppy, sesame, cumin, lavender, chamomile, etc.
  • Use premium quality whole spices and grind them fresh as needed (or fresh premium pre-ground.)


  1. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan with lid, and bring to a boil uncovered, watching carefully. Reduce to a simmer before the syrup boils over. Cover and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring 2-3 times briefly. Uncover and let cool to room temperature. Carefully filter through several layers of cheesecloth, or a clean cotton napkin or bandana, to remove the gritty spice solids. Squeeze solids in cloth by gathering the ends together and twisting to remove as much syrup as possible. Discard spice solids and put syrup in a sealed jar/bottle; or use immediately. Will keep refrigerated for 3-4 days.
  2. Forester measures his spices by the gram with a digital scale accurate to .1 grams. My favorite small scale for home, my food/beverage lab, and bar use, is the Compact Jennings CJ-600 and sells for $35, plus $7 shipping.



  • 3 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Remove citrus peels with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, leaving as much bitter white pith as possible. Cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch wide strips. Put 1/2 cup sugar and citrus zest in a small bowl, muddling the peels gently into the sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for one to three hours, the longer the better.


Can be covered or put in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.

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About Author

Megan McCaffrey is a food writer for The Journal News and contributor to the Small Bites Blog. She has a degree in Digital Media from Fordham University and a fondness for good craft beer. She loves to bake, read cooking blogs and taste all the Lower Hudson Valley has to offer. Megan lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut with her husband and three kids.

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