Drink Up

Bartenders Share Their Best Holiday Punch Recipes (PHOTOS)

Punches are trendy and delicious. From a pumpkin spice version to a great winter Sangria, here are the best punch recipes for the season.

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast


Punch gets a bad rap. Orbs of lime sherbet bobbing in bowls of treacly pink fruit juice doesn’t really scream class. But they are really just giant cocktails, and bartenders looking for the next craze have turned their attention back to America’s original party favorite (the classic ratio: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak) to create versions with sophistication.

The Daily Beast found the season's best recipes from New York bars that specialize in serving these big bowls.

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast

Clover Club

Tom Macy, 30, is the head bartender at the Brooklyn cocktail mecca, Clover Club, one of the first bars to revive the punch.  Macy’s Scarlet Lady punch has strong fall flavors with the red wine, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but the citrus and St. Germain keep it light, bright and refreshing. “It’s nice that it takes a little bit of time to craft” he says. “Kind of like the ritual of making food is part of the fun of Thanksgiving, not just consuming it.

The Tip: The ice doesn’t just keep punch cold. As it melts, it dilutes the drink—and that’s a good thing. Punches are supposed to be lighter and lower in alcohol than a cocktail. The idea, Clover Club owner Julie Reiner says, is “you can drink the punch for a lengthy period of time and have multiple glasses without getting wasted.” 

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast

The Scarlet Lady Punch

16 oz Medium Bodied Red Wine, we used Pinot Noir

8 oz Reposado Tequila

6 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

4 oz Cinnamon Syrup

4 oz St. Germain

8 Lemon Wedges

8 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Muddle Lemon Wedges in Cinnabark syrup and St. Germain. Add remaining ingredients. Shake with ice and strain into a punch bowl over large punch ice cube. Garnish with the peel of a whole grapefruit and grates nutmeg. Makes 10 servings.

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast

The Drink

Allie Zempel, 27, from Brooklyn’s The Drink, made us what might be the quintessential Thanksgiving punch—one guaranteed to impress partiers accustomed classic wine-based punches.  Although you need a juicer for the pumpkin, the extra effort is worth making this grown-up pumpkin pie.

The Trade Winds has “a lot of the same spice elements of pumpkin pie, and it’s got a little bit of sweetness, but that scotch gives it strength and smokiness and body. And the spice and Chai makes it a little more adult.”

The Tip: “Water is really nice in whiskey punches because it opens up the whiskey.”

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast

Trade Winds

10 oz Bank Note Scotch

5 oz Pumpkin juice

5 oz Spicy Chai Syrup (see below)

2.5 oz Grapefruit Juice

2.5 oz Solera Sherry

5 oz water

1 bar spoon Rye Barrel Aged Bitters

Build bottom to top. Add ice and cinnamon sticks.

Spicy Chai Syrup

4 cups water

2 oz strong Chai tea

10 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

5 crushed dried chili peppers

Bring to boil. Remove from heat and brew for 5 minutes. Strain and mix with equal parts sugar to sweeten. (So, if 4 cups liquid, 4 cups sugar)

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast


Cienfuegos bartender Fernando Flores suggests their Anchor Punch this Thanksgiving, a kind of a winter Sangria topped with Red wine. But rum, not wine, is  real star of this special punch that's won fans and "best drink" awards all over the city. 

Tip: “Most people think of Sangria as wine and orange and triple sec and some fruit,” manager Meagan Ashley tells us.  Cienfuegos takes that staple cocktail recipe and moves from there. 

Shaminder Dulai for The Daily Beast

Anchor Punch


2 oz Chairman's Special Reserve rum

1 oz Sweet Vermouth (They use Dolin's)

.5 oz Cherry Heering Liqueur

.5 oz simple syrup

2 dashes each of Absinthe and Angostura Bitters

.75 oz lemon juice

Combine from the bottom up and stir with large ice cubes, if possible. Float Lambrusco and top lemon wheels and flamed lemon twists.

This recipe makes a single cocktail. Multiple by the amount of people you're serving and that will give you the bowl.