With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with fall punch recipes. Redolent with familiar seasonal flavors like apple cider, cinnamon, and maple syrup, these easy, large-format cocktails can be batched in advance for Thanksgiving dinners, fall camping trips, and even office holiday parties (just make sure to not over-serve your coworkers). From a sherry-fortified take on a large-format Margarita to a rye-and-chai tea sipper, here are 10 excellent fall punch recipes—from SAVEUR staffers and bartenders around the country—to try this year.
Chicago’s Punch House manager Aaron “The Doctor” Minnes says, “This punch has fall written all over it. The spice combination of the rye, caraway and the chai masala are a match made in heaven for a punch, and the pear softens the whole experience. Caraway can be overpowering in a lot of drinks, however, in this punch, it’s subtle,like a good bass line to sip along to.” Get the recipe for Carawayed »
At Chicago tiki staple Three Dots and a Dash, beverage director Julian Cox prepares a riff on the traditional Zombie—first created by Don the Beachcomber circa 1934—using two types of rum, citrus juices, and an array of fall-forward flavors. Cox says, “Cinnamon, falernum, and pomegranate really pair well together and bring out the flavors of fall in this fun, festive cocktail!” Get the recipe for the Zombie »
Tempered with crisp apple cider and soothingly sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry, this sneaky applejack-based number goes down deceptively easy. The name nods to the Ohio River Valley, the primary region travelled by folk hero and applejack evangelist “Johnny Appleseed.” The drink’s sleeper hit is the bonded applejack (“bonded” refers to a government regulation for whiskey products that requires they be bottled at 100-proof), which uses 20 pounds of apple per bottle, resulting in a fruity but dry and stiff-sipping spirit. Serve it to your family members if you prefer talking them after they’ve got some booze in ’em. Get the recipe for River Valley Punch »
The Happiest Hour’s John Henderson doubles up on apple with pressed and dry hard cider. It’s spiked with bourbon and tempered with chai tea. He says, “Seasonal apples are the staple for this delicious fall punch. The chai and maple add a nice sweetener, to complement Maker’s Mark’s sweeter flavor profile.” Get the recipe for Bourbon Maple Chai Punch »
Served on the wedding day of cocktail luminary Sasha Petraske and his wife, journalist Georgette Moger-Petraske, this punch appears in his posthumously released recipe book Regarding Cocktails, which was completed by Moger-Petraske following his passing. She calls the punch “the month of May in a glass,” but the simple, refreshing combination of elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth, and prosecco makes this gentle cocktail a year-round standby. In the colder months, opt for fresh cranberries for a seasonally-appropriate garnish. Get the recipe for Wedding Punch »
Inspired by the wealth of high-quality, dry American cider available today, St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance in Brooklyn created a low-ABV punch that riffs on a classic champagne punch recipe found in Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide (1862), which calls for lemon, orange and pineapple juices. Frizell says, “The recipe really came together when I added amontillado sherry, which brings a nutty, oxidized tang, and somehow calls to mind fallen leaves, which works well with the bitter-tart flavors of the cider. Altogether, it’s like a walk through an apple orchard in autumn—which is why I named it Windfall Punch, after the apples that the wind blows down from the branches.” Get the recipe for Windfall Punch »