Planning a holiday party? These three Christmas punch recipes are absolute crowd-pleasers.

 

Look forward to your Christmas punch? We’re not surprised – this is one tradition that has been enjoyed in Europe since the late 16th century. Originally imported from the Far East by English sailors, the word “punch” comes from the Sanskrit word “panch,” meaning five. The rationale? Historically, punches featured five key elements: strong (the alcohol), weak (the dilution), bitter (usually citrus), sweet (sugar, fruit juice, or another sweetener), and spice (bitter or tea).

Honour the traditions, then, by mixing up these three delicious Christmas punch recipes. Festive, classic – and very party-friendly – they’re certain to go down a treat.

Traditional Punch

If you’ve never made a Christmas punch before, this is the recipe to start with. Pomegranate juice and chai add wonderful richness and spice.

50ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin

25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

25ml honey syrup (combine honey with an equal measure of water and let it rest, stirring occasionally until it is dissolved)

50ml pomegranate juice (you can substitute cranberry, pineapple, or a mix of juices)

50ml strongly brewed chai

Combine all ingredients in an empty mixing glass. Then pour the mixture into an ice-filled rocks glass or tumbler. Garnish with a lemon slice and an orange or tangerine slice.

Note: this recipe makes one glass of punch. It can be scaled up to fill a punchbowl. Simply multiply the measures by the number of drinks you would like to make.

Bob Cratchit’s Hot Gin Punch

This recipe is (liberally) adapted from Drinking With Dickens, written by Charles Dickens’s great-grandson Cedric Dickens. He presents this as the author’s personal punch recipe (Charles Dickens was notably fond of a good drink, after all), and dates it to 1850. We’ve applied a few modern tricks to update things for today’s Christmas dos.

200ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin

200ml sweet Madeira wine

50ml dark rum

200ml brewed tea

Dark brown sugar

Peel and juice of 1 lemon

Peel and juice of 1 orange

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced

3 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Combine tea, pineapple, orange and lemon peels and spices in a small covered pot. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add gin and Madeira. Bring up to serving temperature uncovered. Adjust flavour with more citrus and dark brown sugar, to taste. Garnish with clove-studded orange slices.

Gin Wassail Bowl

When it comes to warming Christmas punch recipes, this one is oldest of all. In fact, the first wassail – traditionally, a warming beverage made from cider – dates all the way back to the Saxons, and “wassailing” became a seasonal ritual to help guarantee a good harvest. (Old-fashioned wassail also used to have pieces of toast floating in it, but we’ve nixed that here.) If you want to serve an especially traditional wassail this season, invest in a carved wassail bowl.

100ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin

100ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin

1500ml cider or ale

375ml sherry

250g Demerara sugar

ground ginger

ground cinnamon

nutmeg

1 lemon

Baked apple*

Fill a wassail (or other heatproof) bowl with hot water to warm it. Bring 500ml cider or ale, the sugar and spices to a boil stirring to keep it from foaming over. Add the remaining litre of cider or ale, plus the sherry. Pour the hot water out of the bowl. Add the cider or ale mixture. Peel the lemon. Squeeze the twists over the bowl and discard them. Add 3-4 peeled lemon slices and a baked apple.

* Any classic baked apple recipe should work nicely.

Feature images © shrutebucks/iStock; skodonnell/iStock

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