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Beverages to cheer up holiday parties

Merelize/ Friends and family appreciate a few glasses of party punch at holiday gatherings.


We tend to focus a lot on foods to serve during the holiday season, but what goes along with every meal? Beverages do, even in restaurants.

I seem to be hooked on flavored sparkling water, but I do not like the ones that are sweetened. One thing I insist on is lots of ice. Sparkling water is fine for holidays and special occasions as well as any ordinary days.

If you are looking for something a little more special, it is my hope that you find something you like in this week’s column. Take care and stay safe. Apple orchard punch

1 bottle (32 fluid ounces) apple juice, chilled

1 can (12 fluid ounces) frozen cranberry juice concentrate

1 cup orange juice

1 1/2 liters ginger ale

1 apple 1. In a large punch bowl, combine apple juice, cranberry juice concentrate and orange juice. Stir until dissolved, then slowly pour in the ginger ale.

2. Thinly slice the apple vertically, forming whole apple slices. Float apple slices on top of punch. Makes 12 servings.

Holiday mimosa

1/4 cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 cup orange juice

1 bottle (750 milliliter) bottle brut champagne, chilled 1. Pour the orange liqueur in a shallow bowl; put the sugar in a saucer. Dip just the rims of 6 glasses in the orange liqueur and then in the sugar to form a thin sugared rim.

2. Divide remaining orange liqueur and orange juice among the 6 prepared glasses. Top with champagne. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings. White hot chocolate

I usually omit the almond extract, but it’s your choice. 3 cups half-and-half or light cream, divided

3/4 cup vanilla-flavored baking pieces, candy coating or real white chocolate, chopped

Stick of cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Slivers of candy coating or white chocolate, optional

Ground cinnamon, optional 1. Combine 1/4 cup of the half-and-half or light cream, vanilla baking pieces or chopped candy coating (or real white chocolate), stick of cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium saucepan; whisk over low heat until vanilla baking pieces or candy is melted. Remove stick cinnamon.

2. Add remaining half-and-half or light cream. Whisk until heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Serve warm in cups or mugs; top with slivers of vanilla-flavor candy coating or white chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Makes 5 (6-ounce) servings.

Note: To create a foamy layer on top, blend some of the hot chocolate mixture in a blender container until frothy, and add to each serving.

Raspberry mojito punch

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

3 cups cold water

1 1/2 cups white rum

1 can (12 ounces) frozen raspberry juice blend concentrate, thawed

1/2 cup lime juice

1 1/2 cups carbonated water, chilled

Ice cubes

Fresh raspberries, lime slices and/or fresh mint, optional 1. In a punch bowl combine sugar and the 1/4 cup mint. Using the back of a wooden spoon, lightly crush mint by pressing it against the side of the bowl. Add the cold water, rum, juice concentrate and lime juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved. If desired, cover punch bowl and chill for up to 24 hours.

2. Slowly pour carbonated water down the side of the bowl; stir gently. Add ice cubes. If desired, add raspberries, lime slices and/or fresh mint sprigs.

Note: For non-alcoholic version: Prepare as directed, except omit rum and increase carbonated water to 3 cups. Makes 8 (8-ounce) servings. Mandarin punch

2 cups sugar

2 dozen whole cloves

2 large cinnamon sticks

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, slivered

1/2 teaspoon spearmint or peppermint extract

Club soda 1. Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water and spices in a small pan and heat gently, stirring, until melted to a thick, clear syrup. Take off heat, add citrus juices, stir again and let cool, at least 1/2 hour. Strain into a bowl, add candied ginger, mint and extract, stirring to mix.

2. Fill a wine goblet or tall glass with crushed ice and ladle in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the mixture. Stir, then top with club soda. Makes about 10 drinks.

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