I remember the smell of mulling spices wafting through our house at Christmas time. I would stand in the kitchen, just breathing in the warmth and festivity. So when I called my mom to get her recipes for hot punch, I was a bit surprised to learn that the ‘classic' recipes in her box were either made with instant lemonade or a giant scoop of sugar.
I always enjoy a real food challenge, so I set off to concoct the perfect blend of juicy, spiced holiday goodness – without lots of junk. Though cranberry juice is often used, I opted for pomegranate because of its natural sugar content. I also used a bit of honey instead of sugar.
Pomegranates have magical powers. I mean, have you ever cracked one open? All those little rubies inside look like a secret treasure. When I was pregnant, I would devour pomegranates over the sink, dripping with blood-red juice, instinctively drinking my fill of some magic nutrient that my body required. This weekend, my husband and kids juiced a giant bag into a precious quart of juice.
Unless you like the work, I don't recommend juicing pomegranates for this recipe. Just buy 100% organic juice, and since you're heating it anyway, you won't be missing out on any of the goodness of fresh squeezed juice.
I find myself craving this stuff, especially when its intoxicating aroma is in the air. Since it's basically just juice and spices I drink it to my fill.
Though it's delicious without spirits, if you are hosting a grown-up party, you might consider spiking this Hot Punch with a bottle of light red wine or a few ounces of dark rum.
Traditionally a mulled wine would be used on the longest night of the year to toast the coming days of sun.
Hot punch ingredients
- 1 quart pure pomegranate juice
- 1 quart filtered water
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- zest of one medium-sized orange
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 star anise
- 6 whole allspice berries
- 6 quarter inch slices of fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup honey
- Orange slices for garnish
- 1 bottle of light red wine such as Beaujolais Nouveau (optional)
Hot punch method
This is super easy to make!
- Pour juices, water, and honey into a slow cooker (or use a large saucepan).
- Stir until honey is combined.
- Add spices, zest, and fresh ginger.
- Set slow cooker to high for 1 hour and then turn to warm. (If using the stove, bring to a simmer then turn to warm).
- Add optional wine.
- Serve using a punch ladle and top with a slice of orange floating on top.