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Easy, Elegant Christmas Punch

Big bowl of a cognac and sherry punch with an ice ring and two glasses next to it each garnished with a lemon peel on a...
Photograph by Victoria Jane, Food Styling by Mallory Lance, Prop Styling by Alexandra Massillon
  • Active Time

    15 minutes

  • Total Time

    2 hours 40 minutes (plus 24 hours to freeze ice mold)

There are no hard-and-fast rules for Christmas punch—or most holiday season drinks, for that matter. There are fruity varieties, made with pineapple juice and finished with orange slicesapple cider punchesprosecco and Champagne punches, and nonalcoholic versions. To counter the intensity of the booze, most have a sweet element like cranberry juice, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda, and some double down with ice cream or sherbet that melt into creamy puddles. In short: There’s no wrong way to make a holiday drink if you and your guests enjoy it.

This recipe keeps things simple and understated, but potent, with cognac as its base. Look for bottles labeled VSOP, which stands for very superior old pale and means the cognac has been aged for at least four years. For the sherry, you want something dry or lightly sweet to balance the simple lemon syrup.

Using an ice ring or mold instead of ice cubes keeps the holiday punch cold without watering it down before your Christmas party even gets started. If you don’t have a punch bowl, now’s the time and this one is also a cake stand (yes, really). That said, a pitcher works equally well, though you may need to rethink the ice.

If this easy Christmas punch recipe doesn’t suit your mood, check out more of our favorite holiday cocktail options like a pomegranate-laced sangriamulled winerum punch, an herbal Pimm’s spritz garnished with a sprig of celery, plus a couple with sparkling wine if you’re looking for fizz. Or head over to this slew of nonalcoholic drink recipes worthy of any holiday party.


12–18 servings




cup (200 grams) raw sugar


750-ml bottle VSOP-grade cognac


cup (8 oz.) oloroso or amontillado sherry (such as Dry Sack 15-year-old or Sandeman Character)

Freshly grated nutmeg

Lemon twists for garnish (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Fill 4-cup metal bowl or bundt pan with water. Freeze overnight (for ice mold).

    Step 2

    Remove peels from 4 lemons in strips. Place in medium bowl. Add sugar and muddle. Let stand 30 minutes. Muddle again.

    Step 3

    Cut peeled and unpeeled lemons in half; juice enough lemons to yield 1 cup juice. Bring 1 cup water to boil in small saucepan; pour over lemon peel mixture and stir until sugar dissolves. Strain syrup into large bowl; discard peels. Mix in lemon juice. Add cognac, sherry, and 4 cups cold water. Cover punch and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

    Step 4

    Dip ice mold in hot water to release ice block. Turn ice block, rounded side up, in punch bowl. Add punch. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Ladle into small cups and garnish with a lemon twist (if using). Serve.

    Editor's note: The recipe was originally published in October 2009. Planning a cocktail party? Head this way for our best Christmas appetizer recipes

Nutrition Per Serving

One serving contains the following: Calories (kcal) 191.7 %Calories from Fat 0.0 Fat (g) 0.0 Saturated Fat (g) 0.0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 29.4 Dietary Fiber (g) 0.1 Total Sugars (g) 26.9 Net Carbs (g) 29.4 Protein (g) 0.1
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