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).
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.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)