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)