Sweetened with honey and infused with herbs, this citrus punch is full of flavor and has a deliciously vibrant note. It takes almost no time to make, and it's packed with flavor.
Jump to Recipe | What is it? | What's in it? | Tips | Variations
What is it?
Punch is a drink that mixes fruit juices with a sweetener, spices, and alcohol. Linguists believe that the English word punch comes from the Hindi word pañca which means five - a reference to the five essential ingredients in punch: water (or tea), spices, a sweetener, lemon, or lime juice, and alcohol (1, 2).
This recipe is often remembered by the simple rhyme: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak. This omits the spice component in a traditional punch,
What's in it?
This version of citrus punch includes all five elements of traditional punch, and it begins with a strong infusion of spices and herbs, a touch of honey, citrus juices, and both orange-flavored liqueur and sparkling white wine.
- Juniper is a spice that comes from the cypress family, and it's the leading flavor in gin. As a bitter spice, it supports digestion, and it is also rich in antioxidants. (3)
- Coriander tastes bright and citrusy, complementing the flavor of the citrus juices in this punch recipe. Like juniper, there's a bitter edge to coriander and that bitterness supports digestion. It also is rich in plant compounds that combat inflammation and oxidative stress. (4)
- Rosemary is similarly bitter, with a vibrant herbal perfume that's a natural match for citrus. As a bitter herb, it supports digestion, but research also links rosemary to better cognitive health - especially used in culinary amounts over time. (5,6)
- Bay leaf complements rosemary and citrus. It gives the punch a subtle, but heady herbal undertone. Like many herbs, bay is rich in antioxidants (7).
- Citrus juice gives the punch both its sour notes while also acting as the weak (or nonalcoholic) component. We add a mix of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange juice.
- Honey lends a little sweetness to this recipe, and its floral notes complements the herbs and spices. Look for orange blossom honey for this recipe, although any honey will do.
- Orange flower water lifts the recipe with a lovely, complex floral note that brings the herbs, spices, and citrus into balance. You can find it at well-stocked grocers as well as in markets specializing in Levantine and Southwest Asian cookery.
- Orange-flavored liqueur can be either cointreau or Grand Marnier, as you like it.
- Sparkling white wine can be prosecco, cava, or whatever you happen to like.
Where to Get Herbs
This recipe calls for juniper berries, coriander, rosemary, and bay leaf. You can often find them in well-stocked natural grocers, but we order ours online from Mountain Rose Herbs.
While this citrus punch recipe includes a long list of ingredients, making the punch is simple and effortless. You'll begin by infusing the herbs into water, and then mixing that infusion with honey, citrus juices, and alcohol. Here's a few tips to keep in mind.
- Start the herbal infusion with cold water. You'll begin by boiling the herbs to make a decoction (which is a type of herbal infusion), and they'll release their compounds more readily if you start add the herbs when the water is cold. That means bigger (and better) flavor.
- Add the honey to the infusion when it is still hot, that way it will dissolve better and with less effort.
- Use fresh-pressed citrus juice. While you can buy bottled juices, fresh-pressed juice means a more vibrant and more nuanced flavor. And that means a delicious punch.
- Use up to four cups citrus juice. This recipe calls for a blend of lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit juices, but you can adjust this to suit your preferences and what's available to you. Pomelo and tangerine juices are delicious additions.
Swap the citrus. Try pomelo juice in place of grapefruit juice, and tangerine juice in place of orange.
Skip the alcohol by replacing the sparkling white wine with sparkling apple cider or sparkling water, and omit the orange-flavored liqueur in favor of ½ teaspoon orange extract.
Use kombucha or water kefir in place of the alcohol for a version that's rich in microbiome-supporting beneficial bacteria.
Switch the herbs. You can swap juniper berries for a spoonful of cardamom pods, and replace the bay leaf and rosemary with vanilla bean, star anise, and cinnamon if you prefer.
Try these other herb-forward drinks>>
- Punch. The Online Eytmology Dictionary. (2020)
- S. Kamar. (2020) Loanwords: Major Periods of Borrowing in the History of English.
- Tang, J., Dunshea, F. R., & Suleria, H. (2019). LC-ESI-QTOF/MS Characterization of Phenolic Compounds from Medicinal Plants (Hops and Juniper Berries) and Their Antioxidant Activity. Foods (Basel, Switzerland)
- Tsui, P. F., Lin, C. S., Ho, L. J., & Lai, J. H. (2018). Spices and Atherosclerosis. Nutrients
- Pengelly A., et al. (2012) Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population. J Med Food. 2012
- Moss, M., Smith, E., Milner, M., McCready, J. (2018) Acute ingestion of rosemary water: Evidence of cognitive and cerebrovascular effects in healthy adults. J Psychopharmacol.
- Simić, M., Kundaković, T., Kovacević, N. (2003) Preliminary assay on the antioxidative activity of Laurus nobilis extracts. Fitoterapia.