Photo by Kelly Puleio

Whether or not you string festive garlands of cranberries to trim your Christmas tree, you’ll want to grab a bag or two to make this wintry punch from Laura Newman of Queen’s Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Pairing the tangy fruit with Scotch—plus oolong tea that’s been steeped forever—gives a whisper of smoke and a bitter, malty edge to the drink. The peat level, of course, will depend on the Scotch you choose; if you’re going with a more neutral blended whiskey, you may want to include an ounce or two of something smokier. Batch it up a few days ahead, then call your whiskey-loving friends and spend your preparty time making the ultimate Bing Crosby playlist. If you’d like to double the recipe, it makes a pretty punch bowl.

12 servings


    • 2 1/4 cups Scotch (such as Dewar’s White Label)
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
    • 2 cups chilled extra-strong oolong
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled cranberry syrup
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  1. Extra-strong oolong:
    • 2 cups water
    • 6 oolong tea bags
  2. Cranberry syrup:
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 1 tablespoon Scotch (optional)
  3. To serve:
    • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 8 lemon wheels


    1. At least 2 hours and up to 2 days before serving, make the batch.
    2. Pour Scotch, bitters, chilled extra-strong oolong, chilled cranberry syrup, and water into a 2-quart pitcher and stir to mix. Seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate.
    3. Up to 2 hours before serving, prepare lemon juice and stir into pitcher mix. Reseal and return to refrigerator if not serving immediately.
    4. To serve, stir mixture well, then garnish pitcher with cranberries and lemon wheels. Pour into ice-filled teacups.
  1. Oolong:
    1. In a small lidded saucepan, bring water to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. As soon as you spot the first bubble, add tea bags, cover pan, remove from heat, and let steep for 8 to 10 hours. Strain, seal, and refrigerate until chilled or for up to 2 days.
    2. Cranberry syrup:
      1. Combine water, sugar, and cranberries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. When cranberries begin to pop, use a wooden spoon to crush them against side of pan and remove pan from heat. Let cool to room temperature, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a resealable container, pressing on solids to extract all remaining liquid. (Don’t discard the cooked fruit! It’s great over yogurt or ice cream.) If storing syrup more than a few days, stir in Scotch. Refrigerate until chilled or for up to 2 weeks.
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