Winter Holiday Recipe: Wassail Punch

In middle school I began hosting an annual Christmas party for the girls in my class. I felt very chic, acting as the hostess and putting together a menu alongside my mother. I always requested a Bouche de Noel (my taste was very mature for a 10-year-old), in addition to assorted cookies, brownies, and hot cocoa.

My mother always insisted on serving her wassail punch, which I didn't think was very cool, but I let it slide. As I got older, though, I began looking forward to the punch -- the smells of apple cider and cinnamon lingering through the house. Now I can't imagine Christmas without it!

In true Southern fashion, my mother's punch is just an "oh you know, a little bit of this and a little bit of that" recipe, but it didn't take long to recreate a version that reminds me of my youth. As I continue my tradition of annual holiday entertaining, you can rest assured this wassail punch always finds its way to the table (with a splash of bourbon for extra Christmas cheer).

Wassail Punch

Serves 6

6 cups apple cider
1 cup orange juice
4 cinnamon sticks, plus additional for garnish
6-8 whole star anise, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of allspice
Juice of one lemon
Bourbon or whiskey (optional, but highly recommended)

In a large dutch oven, bring all of the ingredients to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a few hours. Serve hot; spike with bourbon/whiskey, if desired. Garnish with whole cinnamon sticks and star anise.

Related: Good Question: Know a Great Holiday Punch?

(Images: Nealey Dozier)

Per serving, based on 6 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
345
Fat
10.1 g (15.5%)
Saturated
0.4 g (2%)
Carbs
64.8 g (21.6%)
Fiber
9.4 g (37.7%)
Sugars
29.4 g
Protein
11.2 g (22.4%)
Sodium
20.1 mg (0.8%)