Posted by: A Part of the Solution | December 7, 2010

Hot Spiced Cider Punch

I adore this beverage. Pretty much everyone I know who’s had some thinks very highly of it. Not only is this easy to make in volume, but it can also be made ahead and the alcohol added on a cup-by-cup basis. Then everyone gets to have some, whether they’re partial to booze or not.

This hot spiced cider punch is based on old spiced cider recipes. It also owes something to modern tastes, access and sensibilities. I don’t, for example, recommend combining brandy with the rum or rye–though most of the 19th century and older versions of this explicitly (and consistently) do.

How many does this serve? Well. partly that depends on the size of a cup you put out. I recommend using smaller rather than larger cups. Not only does the punch go farther, but refilling the punch keep people circulating through the party venue. However, this makes about 28 servings without any alcohol being added. Which means you can count on about 35-40 servings per recipe if you’re including the alcohol.

If you do add booze to the punch while it’s on the stove, do warn your guests not to eat any pieces of the fruit that may stray into their mugs. For whatever reason, the fruit multiplies the expression of the alcohol in the punch. People who ignore or override the warning are inevitably found asleep within the hour of consuming their punch fruit–occasionally in the bathtub. More usually on a bed somewhere. Be advised!

Hot Spiced Cider Punch

1 gallon apple cider

2 cups of water

2 lemons, sliced thinly and the juice of two more

2 oranges, sliced thinly and the juice of three more

1 cinnamon stick

6 whole star anise

3 inches of fresh ginger, sliced paper thin (a mandoline is excellent for this task)

10 whole cloves, stuck into the rinds of the fruit slices

15 whole allspice berries (in a tea ball if you want to fish them out later, otherwise not)

15 whole black peppercorns, or juniper berries–depending on your pantry, or even 6 bay leaves (really)

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup triple sec or Curacao

Up to a fifth of rum, rye or bourbon

You will need a pot which holds about two gallons to put all this in. Add everything up to the alcohol. Let it come to a simmer and allow the spiced cider to simmer for about half an hour. Now you can serve it to your happy guests, by adding a teaspoon’s worth of the orange liquor and a shot of the rum/rye/bourbon in each cup or mug. Or you can cool the punch and have it completely ready to serve by reheating.  It will keep about a week in advance.

This does well in a large slow cooker, once it’s been simmered. If you don’t have a large slow cooker, you want it on the stove top on the lowest heat you can manage. Don’t forget to use a flame tamer if you’re cooking on gas.



  1. This sounds so delish!

    • Almost to the point of needing to be careful to whom one serves it!

      • And you might also let the punch cool down and pour it 1:1 with sparkling dry wine into tall stemmed glasses for an extra festive good time!

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