Ponche Navideño (Christmas Punch) is a traditional Mexican drink that is imbibed around Christmas and New Year’s Day. In Mexico, it is often sold on the streets by vendors. It’s a spicy mix of fruits and cinnamon that is a perfect winter-warmer for any holiday get-together – and oddly reminiscent of the best apple cider you’ve ever tasted. Serve this and you are guaranteed to get a lot of questions from satisfied party-goers.
First, meet the cast:
• 3 gallons of water
• 10 ounces of prunes
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 4 sugar canes (I had to go to a Mexican market for these. They really add a depth of flavor to the mix but if you can’t find them, boost the granulated amount up until it suits your tastes.)
• 7 guavas (I had never used these before. They tasted sour – almost like a honeydew melon that wasn’t ripe. Again, they came from the Mexican market. I would substitute more oranges or maybe even clementines if guavas aren’t available.)
• 5 oranges
• 10 ounces of tejocotes (I wasn’t familiar with these, either but they had them. They kind of reminded me of crabapples, except they didn’t taste as bitter. I would guess any bitter, diced apple would make a good substitute. )
• 6 ounces of walnuts
• 2 pounds of sugar
• 1 quart of brandy (I won’t lie. I added a lot more.)
Wash all of the fruits. Cut the sugar canes into sticks. Cut the oranges and guavas into quarters. Cut the stems off the tejocotes. Bring everything to a boil together except for the granulated sugar and brandy. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour, preferably longer. Ladle punch into mugs being sure to include a little bit of fruit, nuts and a sugar cane stick in each serving. Serve piping-hot and watch out for seeds!
…and most importantly of all, HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!