Our hot cranberry punch is a tradition for our family Thanksgiving celebration, but it’s also wonderful for any of the winter holidays. Simmering on the stove, the colorful punch fills the house with the fragrance of sweetness, cinnamon, and cloves–a perfect way to get your house smelling like the holidays for Christmas Eve or a New Year’s Day open house.
My mom made this punch at least as far back as my teenage years, and maybe earlier. She gave me the recipe:
Hot Cranberry Punch
1 quart jar cranberry juice cocktail, 2 cups orange juice, 1 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup honey, 3 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 quart bottle of ginger ale
Simmer all except ginger ale together for 15 minutes. Remove spices (if you can find them). Just before serving, add the 1 quart bottle of ginger ale. Pour into punch bowl or tea pot. Serve warm. Makes 20 1/2 cup servings (about the size of a “punch” cup).
Mom wrote some notes on the back (you know they are as important as the recipe itself!)
Jeannie, you can do the “simmering” way ahead to get it out of the way. Then heat it up and add the ginger ale. This much makes my pressure cooker sort of fullish. I usually put in about 6 whole cloves and cinnamon sticks, and maybe more honey–taste it–it is tart. With leftover–if you heat it very often & leave the spices in, it may get too spicy.
For many years, Mom served the hot cranberry punch in the ruby punch bowl that had belonged to her Cousin Pearl. Cousin Pearl, who lived in the city and had many pretty things, knew my mom had admired her pretty red dishes, and the dishes made their way to Mom. When Rick and I became the servers of hot cranberry punch, the punch bowl and its ruby red punch cups came to our house. I even was able to add a ruby red punch ladle to the set because a thoughtful friend spied one in a cheap box of odds and ends that was sold at an estate sale. She bought the whole box of kitchen junk and gave me the ladle. Each time I use it, I love thinking of Sue and our time as neighbors when we lived in North Carolina.
Our kids, grown and little, all love the cranberry punch, which started out in Berryville with Mom and Dad and has been on our table in Danville, Mooresville, Charlottesville, Stanardsville, Hernando, and South Hill. Hot cranberry punch has been a small consistent tradition as our family has experienced loss, growth, and change over the years. Something warm, tart, and sweet, with cinnamon sticks, honey, fruit juice and bubbly ginger ale–in those familiar yet special punch cups, year after year.