An essential part of Christmas in Mexico, sweet, fragrant Ponche Navideño can be found simmering away on stovetops and at traditional outdoor markets all across the country from December 12 through January 6, the period during which the holiday is celebrated. Featuring traditional Mexican flavorings such as fresh sugar cane, guavas and tejocotes (a crabapple-type fruit), the punch is spiked with a healthy dose of rum and served piping hot to ward off any winter chills. Here in the U.S., it can be hard to find these items fresh. So this recipe relies on easy-to-find ingredients that lend their Mexican flair to an irresistible rum punch.
Ingredients in The Ponche Navideño Cocktail
Piloncillo (Mexican-style unrefined brown sugar), grated (or 1 cup packed dark brown sugar)
Tart apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped
Ripe pear, peeled, cored, finely chopped
Packed raisins or golden raisins
Dried hibiscus flowers (also known as jamaica or sorrel), tied inside a square of cheesecloth
In a large stockpot, add the water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves and tamarind paste, and bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer, and stir to completely dissolve the tamarind paste. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the apples, pear, raisins and hibiscus flowers, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft and raisins are rehydrated.
Squeeze the remaining liquid out of the cheesecloth packet and discard. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves and discard. Stir in the lemon juice and rum.
Ladle the punch between 12 punch glasses, thinly slice 2 lemons, and garnish each glass with a slice.