After-Dinner Recipe: Hot Cranberry Punch with Sage & Peppercorns

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I am such a fan of the after-dinner drink. Sure, you've had your bubbly to start, and your red wine with the meal, but hopefully you've saved a little room for a digestif, a hot tipple to round off the meal and smooth your way into the evening.

For our small, swanky Thanksgiving menu, I knew I wanted just such a drink, leaving something warm in guests' hands as they lingered around the table, talking into the evening. And the right book fell into my lap the moment I needed it. Here is the winter cocktail you're waiting for: A hot cranberry punch from Maria del Mar Sacasa, author of Winter Cocktails.

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This drink is sweet, herbal, and a little spicy around the edges. It's made of cranberries simmered with honey and a bottle of the driest inexpensive Riesling you can find. Sage leaves give it a tonic aroma, and Benedictine — a classic liqueur with notes of sweet herbs and citrus — rounds it out. As you can see, the color is gorgeous.

I served it in small cups for sipping slowly at the end of the meal. After dessert, it's a wonderful way to extend your time at the table.

But it's not just a digestif; I'm thinking about making this as a nightcap in the dark winter months. Its bright color and strong, hot sweetness would be very welcome in February, don't you think?

Hot Cranberry Punch with Sage & Peppercorns

Recipe by Maria del Mar Sacasa

Serves 4 to 8

2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
1/4 cup honey
1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry Riesling, divided
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1 cup Benedictine liqueur

Place peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cranberries, honey, and 1 cup Riesling and simmer over medium heat until thick and syrupy and some of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes.

Smash cranberries with a fork. Add the remaining wine and sage, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture, smashing the cranberries once more, then discard solids. (At this point the strained mixture can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

To serve, add the Benedictine liqueur and warm over low heat until steaming. Serve in warm cups.

More from Maria del Mar Sacasa


Glassware pictured above:

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Photos by Rachel Joy Photos of Columbus, Ohio

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Festive Drinks for Thanksgiving

Per serving, based on 6 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
329
Fat
0.9 g (1.4%)
Saturated
0.4 g (2.2%)
Carbs
46.2 g (15.4%)
Fiber
4 g (16.1%)
Sugars
34.7 g
Protein
1 g (1.9%)
Sodium
5.7 mg (0.2%)

(Image credits: Rachel Joy Baransi)