Apple Cider and Bourbon Punch Recipe (2024)

By Rosie Schaap

Apple Cider and Bourbon Punch Recipe (1)

Total Time
15 minutes, plus chilling
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Apples and oranges! They’re often presented as exemplars of opposition, as though they have nothing in common. But both fruits make appearances on many Thanksgiving tables, with orange in some cranberry sauces and cornbread stuffings with apple, and they mingle beautifully in a mellow punch that gets its verve from bourbon and its depth from a brown sugar and cinnamon simple syrup. For extra apple flavor, try swapping an apple spirit, such as Applejack or Calvados, in for the bourbon. The leftover simple syrup is great in co*cktails -- a festive Old Fashioned, for example -- and also on oatmeal and rice pudding.

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Yield:14 6-ounce servings

    For the Syrup

    • 1cup dark brown sugar
    • 2cinnamon sticks, slightly bruised

    For the Punch

    • ½cup brown sugar and cinnamon syrup
    • 3cups bourbon
    • 4cups cold-pressed apple cider (nonalcoholic)
    • ½cup fresh lemon juice
    • ½cup orange juice (fresh is best)
    • 4cups ice
    • 2cups club soda, or to taste
    • 1orange, cut into wheels, for garnish (optional)
    • Nutmeg, to taste

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (14 servings)

232 calories; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 0 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 26 grams sugars; 0 grams protein; 17 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Apple Cider and Bourbon Punch Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and cinnamon sticks with 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered until sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let syrup cool; discard cinnamon sticks. (Leftover syrup may be kept refrigerated for a week.)

  2. Combine syrup, bourbon, apple cider, lemon juice and orange juice in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

  3. Step


    Strain chilled punch into a punch bowl. Add 4 cups of ice and club soda. Garnish with orange wheels. Generously grate nutmeg on top. Serve over ice.



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Cooking Notes


I added star anise, whole cloves, and strips of fresh orange peel to the syrup (and then glazed an apple spice cake with the leftover syrup- so good!). Made this twice and the 2nd time reduced the bourbon from 3 cups to 2; guests liked the weaker version better :)


I made this for ten people and reduced the bourbon to 2 cups as suggested in other comments. Some of us thought it was too sweet. I recommend you add the syrup a bit at a time and taste it as you go.

Lizzie G

Made exactly as is - delicious and big hit. Really easy and festive for any winter, fall, or Thanks/Friendsgiving gathering. Followed alaskancook's tip and used 2 cups (instead of 3) of bourbon, which was perfect. Once cooked, had about 1 cup of syrup--so I froze the extra 1/2 cup of syrup and will use it make a second batch soon.


I substituted ginger ale for the club soda and cinnamon syrup. Worked well!


Followed step one and two, mixing it all in a glass pitcher and letting it sit in the fridge for an hour. Then everyone mixed their own by pouring the mixture over ice and topping with seltzer. Orange slice garnish was optional. We all LOVED it!

For a drinking/non crowd

Mixed the fruit ahead, added lemon La Croix and optional bourbon when serving. This let us serve kids, and also try applejack without making multiple batches (bourbon was much better, used Buffalo Trace).


I am am also wondering how one “bruises” a cinnamon stick!

Evan Walker

Exchange the syrup for bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. Can also be served hot. I am confident, this is what God drinks on a cold night with friends during ski season.


Fantastic holiday co*cktail. I used a tall glass pitcher and nixed the added seltzer, instead pouring the mix over extra large ice cubes in the pitcher and serving it on the rocks. The entire batch disappeared, and I’m getting requests from guests for the recipe. Thanks NYT for keeping guests happy this Thanksgiving!


Or you can simplify and just use apple cider and bourbon.


I made two batches at given specs for a Thanksgiving dinner party. Did not use a punch bowl because of concern that the drink would become too diluted. Used highball glasses, poured over ice, added garnish, and topped with club soda. Best large batch co*cktail I've ever made, popular with all types of drinkers. I am surprised that some folks found it too sweet because this was absolutely not my experience and I'm always concerned about that aspect because it is generally true for a lot of drinks


Made this almost to the recipe (reduced to 2 c bourbon) in September and served over rocks. It was great. Just made it again on a -1 degree night in Colorado but served it hot by exchanging seltzer for plain tap water and warming it before adding the bourbon. Also excellent. The type of bourbon makes a big difference on the sweetness. It’s very versatile.


I made it with Maker's Mark. I poured punch in glass and topped with soda like others suggested, along with grated nutmeg and orange slices. Everyone loved it. I was worried it would be too sweet, but it was just right. I wouldn't reduce the amount of bourbon. If anything, I would add a little more.

Peter Filocamo

Slightly bruising the cinnamon sticks is reminiscent of a technique I had only previously seen in a Screaming Viking


I don't understand when the other 1/2 cup of sugar goes in. It's listed in the ingredients but not in the preparation. Plus I would think it would not dissolve in cold cider.


It is referring to 1/2 cup of syrup, which is made with brown sugar and cinnamon. No sugar goes into the punch, just the syrup. I agree with you that the wording is confusing!


Made this following the recipe exactly. I thought it was a little heavy on the bourbon but it still tasted great and got lots of compliments from the guests. I’d make it again!


Try using butter, scotch, schnapps, how much easier and just a satisfying way to go with a drink


Bruising cinnamon sticks only works with real cinnamon, not cassia. Real cinnamon is papery and you can crush it with the heel of your palm, to allow the syrup to contact more surface area.


I added whole allspice and a few cloves to the simple sugar mixture and a shot of Amaro Nonino (bitters liquer) to the punch bowl. I kept the bourbon at three cups, but added a full bottle of seltzer vs two cups. Our guests loved this punch, as did I.


Recipe is way too sweet, IMHO. Get some Apple Blossom bitters, and gently mix cider, bourbon, lemon juice and the apple blossom bitters. Always a hit.


Made this almost to the recipe (reduced to 2 c bourbon) in September and served over rocks. It was great. Just made it again on a -1 degree night in Colorado but served it hot by exchanging seltzer for plain tap water and warming it before adding the bourbon. Also excellent. The type of bourbon makes a big difference on the sweetness. It’s very versatile.

John Bi

Replace the club soda and unfiltered apple juice with sparkling apple cider. About one bottle should do the trick. Reduce the water in the syrup to 3/4 of a cup. Add cardamom, clover and star anise (sp?) for 15 mins. Homestyle OJ and bottled lemon juice because who really has time to juice that many lemons, it’s the holidays after all.

Gary Van Liew

I used the syrup for my Candied Yams.


Skip the syrup and steep the apple cider in cinnamon sticks...too sweet with the sugar.


Some bourbons are sweeter than others.


Made with half the syrup it called for as the juice makes this drink sweet enough! Also left out the club soda and added a few dashes of Angostura bitters served on the rocks. Great co*cktail for holiday gatherings.


Instead of bourbon I use rye, the bourbon and simple syrup are a sweetness overload. It’s delicious!

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Apple Cider and Bourbon Punch Recipe (2024)
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