Cups of Cheer: Bourbon & Chai Cider Punch

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Throwing a holiday bash? A great way to avoid mixing a bunch of complicated cocktails and actually, IDK, talk to your guests is to serve a punch! It’s kind of a throwback to parties of yore, when our moms would float frozen sherbet islands in Sprite and garnish with orange rounds. But who doesn’t love a little dressed-up nostalgia around the holidays? So we present to you the Bourbon & Chai Cider Punch!

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t get to do half the fun fall things you wanted to do this autumn, so why not bring some of those flavors into December? I mixed local apple cider with a cold-brewed chai tea, then added bourbon, lemon juice, and bitters for a little contrast. A note on the tea: you may want to try a rooibos or decaf chai if you’ve got caffeine sensitive friends. Though the apple cider is plenty sweet, I thought my punch needed a little extra something, so I made a spice-infused simple syrup and gradually incorporated it with the rest of the ingredients, along with some club soda for brightness. A few pomegranate seeds and sliced apples, and voila! Punch is served. Check out the recipe below!

Yield: Punch for approx. 25 thirsty guests

1 750 mL bottle of bourbon or whiskey
1/2 gallon of apple cider
1/2 gallon of iced chai tea
2 lemons, juiced
Spice-infused simple syrup (see below)
Several dashes bitters (Angostura or Peychaud’s)
12 oz club soda, or more to taste
1 sliced apple for garnish
1/2 pomegranate’s worth of seeds, for garnish

Stir together bourbon, apple cider, chai tea, and lemon juice in the punch bowl. Add simple syrup a quarter cup at a time until the sweetness brings out the tea and spice flavors, then add a few dashes of bitters for balance. Next, dilute the mixture with club soda, to taste. Add apple slices, pomegranate seeds, and enjoy!

For the simple syrup:
Boil two cups water with two cinnamon sticks, a small handful of cloves, and a knob of fresh ginger. Feel free to add your fave warming spices like nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom as well. When the water has boiled down to one cup, add a cup of sugar, turn off the heat, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Strain out the spices, and let the simple syrup cool slightly before using.

+What’s your go-to punch recipe for serving a crowd?

About Sarah

Sarah is a writer, baker, and all-around trouble maker based in Pittsburgh PA. When she’s not tweeting and pinning for ModCloth’s social team, you can find her thrifting for vintage leather jackets, reading 'Jane Eyre' for the eighth time, or gratuitously ‘gramming her cat Pepper.

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