Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Punch)

This time of year, I'm always craving a mug of something steamy and cozy. From rich hot chocolate to endless cups of tea, it's my favorite way to stay warm when it's freezing outside. I've recently fallen in love with Ponche Navideño--a Mexican-inspired Christmas punch that is made by simmering fresh fruit like apples, prunes, and guava with whole spices and tea.

For this version, I'm using Lipton Green Tea, which adds delicate flavor and combines beautifully with the fruit. I'm a big green tea fan. I rarely drink sweetened beverages in my daily life, so unsweetened green tea has long been one of my go-tos when I want a natural pick-me-up or a refreshing alternative to water. During the summer, I brew up a batch and keep it in my fridge to drink over ice with lemon, but in winter I prefer it warm.

I love how the green tea makes for a fragrant base to this punch that adds lots of flavor without any additional sugar. So many holiday drink recipes call for sugary sodas or syrups, so this is a much lighter and more nutritious alternative you can feel good about serving your guests (and yourself!).

Though the original traditional recipe does call for the addition of brown sugar or piloncillo (which is similar to jaggery), I've actually found that you can skip it completely because the fresh fruits and guava juice add plenty of natural sweetness on their own! The longer you let the fruit and spices simmer and meld in the pot, the more intense and fragrant it becomes. You're going to love how amazing your whole house will smell when you make it! And just wait until you try that first sip!

If you've ever tried mulled wine, it's a similar concept, though this punch can be served with or without alcohol stirred in. It's Mexican, which means tequila is the traditional spirit that is added, but I'm Puerto Rican and have always loved rum best, so that's what I prefer to use! Feel free to personalize it however you'd like.

Punch is an effortless way to serve drinks to a crowd when entertaining, which makes this a perfect holiday party recipe. And the fact that the alcohol is added separately also makes it ideal for serving guests with a variety of preferences.

I recommend setting up a little DIY drink station with a hot bowl of punch (or use a slow cooker to keep it warm throughout your party!) next to mugs, a selection of spirits, and some fun garnishes like sliced oranges and cinnamon sticks for guests to dress up their mugs!

Another entertaining tip I love? Send guests home with a goodie bag!

No need to make it fancy. For these gifts, I combined an orange, a few bags of Lipton green tea, and some cinnamon sticks and cloves so that my guests could make their own mug of spiced punch at home. (Mini bottles of rum or tequila would be so cute to add, too!).

This post was sponsored by Lipton and DiMe Media. For more fun Latin-inspired recipes and ideas visit makemealsthatdomore.com (English) or logramascontucocina.com (Spanish). Happy holidays and remember to always drink responsibly!

Mexican Christmas Punch (Ponche Navideño)

Serves 16

20 whole cloves
2 large navel oranges, sliced thickly
1 1/2 quarts water
2 apples, cored and diced (do not peel)
2 ripe pears, cored and sliced (do not peel)
1 cup pitted prunes (substitute dried apricots, cherries or cranberries, if preferred)
8 cinnamon sticks
6 Lipton Green Tea Bags
1 cup guava juice or nectar

Stick cloves into the skin of the orange slices (this will help flavor the drink while making it easy to remove the cloves for serving).

Combine the prepared oranges, water, apples, pears, prunes, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes to let the fruit soften and the flavors to deepen.

Remove from heat and add Lipton Green Tea bags. Cover and let steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in guava juice.

Serve hot on its own or with the addition of your favorite spirit (tequila, rum, or brandy).

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