Spiced Bourbon Punch

punch bowl filled with spiced bourbon punch, sliced apples, sliced lemons and star anise.
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As sparkly as the lights on the tree, and boozy enough to set even the most frozen of hearts all aglow, this holiday-spiced bourbon punch is all dressed up and ready to party. 

The Nice Kind of Punch. 

Well, with a full bottle of bourbon in it, you could possibly make an argument that this festive holiday punch recipe deserves a spot on the naughty list, but we think it’s more nice than naughty. Store-bought spiced apple cider gets a boost from a homemade spiced simple syrup, while lots of lemon juice brings a zingy, tart balance to the fruity base of this easy party punch. Now, to hunt down grandma’s punch bowl... 

three punch cups with spiced bourbon and crushed ice topped with lemon slices, star anise and apple slices

Champagne Punch, Anyone? 

Just saying that sounds like a party, right? Here’s what you’ll need to make this holiday-spiced bourbon punch: 

  • Spiced apple cider.  We used Trader Joe’s brand, but any store-bought spiced cider you like will work just fine.  
  • Lemons. 
  • Spiced simple syrup. More on that in a minute!  
  • Orange liqueur. Orange liqueur is a funny one—you’re probably familiar with this citrusy, sweet liqueur because the major brand names, like Grand Marnier or Cointreau, are pretty recognizable. But really, any brand of orange liqueur that you like is just fine to use in this punch. Just know that the sweetness level of orange liqueur varies quite a bit brand to brand, and remember that this punch recipe is plenty sweet thanks to a whole cup of simple syrup, so you may want to stay away from any super sweet brands. When in doubt, ask someone at the liquor store for their advice. 
  • Bourbon. Well, this is another can of worms! Which bourbon to use? The easy answer is to just use a whiskey that you like enough to drink on its own, but not anything super expensive since you’ll be using it to whip up our Christmas punch recipe. 
  • Sparkling wine. Much like with the bourbon, this is not the time for that special bottle of bubbly you got as a wedding gift. Use a good sparkling wine that you enjoy drinking on its own, but there’s no need to make a big splurge. 
punch bowl topped with apple slices, lemon slices and star anise

A Festive Simple Syrup Recipe

Simple syrup is—you guessed it—simple to make! It really is. “Simple syrup” just means sugar syrup, and it’s just sugar dissolved in water. Even the ratio is so easy—just 1:1. You can handle that, right? To make this holiday party punch recipe just a bit more festive, we’ve added spices to our simple syrup recipe. We spice our syrup with warm, classic holiday flavors: 

  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Star anise 

How to Make the Best Alcoholic Punch Recipe Ever

  1. Make the simple syrup. You’ll want to cool the syrup completely before adding it to the punch, so this is a job we like to tackle the night—or even the week!—before whatever party we’re planning to serve the spiced bourbon punch at. 
  2. Haul out your punch bowl and give it a clean—you know that thing has gathered some dust. OR, if you don’t have a punch bowl, hit up your local thrift store. Cute vintage punch bowls are surprisingly easy to come by. 
  3. Squeeze! Juice a bunch of lemons—enough for 1.5 cups of juice! You’ll need about 10-12 lemons.  
  4. Pop that bubbly! Possibly sneak a nip. 
  5. Pour. Pour everything together, and give the punch a good stir. 
  6. Chill. For at least 30 minutes, so the punch is nice and cold. Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, you make a homemade ice ring for your punch! It’ll keep it nice and cold throughout the party. 
  7. Party! 
punch bowl filled with spiced bourbon punch, sliced apples, sliced lemons and star anise.

Tools You’ll Need: 

More Christmas Drink Recipes to Liven Up the Party! 

Winter is citrus season, so if you’re looking for a refreshing tipple, look no further! Or maybe you’re craving something more classically winter, like a warm and spicy mulled wine? Yeah, we’ve got that too! Here are four of our favorite holiday cocktail recipes that are easy to make for a crowd : 

Punch It Up! 

Nothing makes a gathering feel like a true party quite like a special cocktail. This boozy holiday punch recipe is sure to light things up! If you make it, snap a photo of your bourbon punch, and maybe even a video of the beautiful crowd you share it with. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Spiced Bourbon Punch

Serves 16

Ingredients

2 cups spiced apple cider
1 bottle bourbon
1 bottle Champagne or sparkling wine
1.5 cups Orange Liqueur or Triple Sec
1.5 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup spiced simple syrup

Spiced Simple Syrup

3/4 cup sugar
10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise

Method

  1. To make the simple syrup: combine the sugar, spices and 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and let the syrup simmer, stirring constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, strain out spices. *makes a little more than 1 cup.
  2. To make the punch: combine the spiced cider, bourbon, sparkling wine, orange liqueur, lemon juice and 1 cup of the simple syrup in a large punch bowl. Stir to mix and chill for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve over crushed iced with sliced apples or lemon slices.