Cranberry Cider Champagne Punch

Entertaining a crowd for the holidays?  Make this crowd-pleasing Cranberry Cider Champagne Punch, perfect for your next big gathering. Full of the best fall and winter flavors, it’s an easy drink to make all season long!

two champagne flutes filled with an apple cider bourbon punch.

We love hosting parties. In grad school, we held huge “Chrismukkah” parties, which evolved over time into formal sit-down dinner Chanukah parties and a big New Year’s Eve party. Graduation parties? Moving away parties? Super bowl parties? We host them all.

If I’ve learned one thing over many years of hosting parties, it’s that a lot of people are not very good at making their own mixed drinks. No matter how well we stock our bar, mixers, and garnishes, most people aimlessly wander around the bar area and ultimately decide on a beer or some rum and coke.

I get it; I always prefer craft cocktails when I’m out because it’s a skill I don’t have – I rarely order dessert at a restaurant, but I’ll always order a fancy drink.

The first few years of our parties, I used to also play bartender, in addition to hint. I’d print up a list with suggested drink ideas that I could make and make them to order for all our friends.

It was really fun – but it also meant that I didn’t get to enjoy quality time with friends, between pulling more hot food out of the oven and making everyone’s drinks. I’ve since wisened up and started making large-batch punches.

Every year, the punch is a little different – and every year, it’s a huge hit.  I fill up our 3.5 gallon drink dispenser and most years, I have to refill it mid-party.

People don’t want to think about what to drink, they just want a glass of something delicious. Like this cranberry cider champagne punch.

Apple cider.  Cranberry juice.  Champagne and seltzer for some pop and fizz.  Some sliced limes for a little citrusy punch.  And then top it off with your liquor of choice – vodka is usually a big crowd pleaser, but bourbon is my absolute favorite.

Garnish with some fresh cranberries (or sugared cranberries!) for a perfectly festive holiday beverage.  It’s so easy to make a big batch (literally takes under 5 minutes) and it’s sure to be a big hit.

glass pitcher filled with a winter-themed champagne punch.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Apple Cider: The sweet, tangy base of our punch. If you’re in a pinch, apple juice works too, but cider offers a richer depth and makes it feel more like a fancy drink than a college punch.
  • Cranberry Juice: For that tart kick and gorgeous color. No cranberry juice? Pomegranate juice is a great substitute.
  • Seltzer: Selter adds extra bubbles without sweetness, but if you prefer sweeter drinks, use ginger ale instead.
  • Champagne: The star fizz! Prosecco or any sparkling wine can do the trick.
  • Bourbon: Adds a smooth, warm note. You can omit it or use vodka or brandy as an alternative.
  • Limes: This punch benefits from a little citrus – limes are my favorite, but oranges also work well.
overhead view of lime slices floating in a pitcher of champagne punch.

How to Make Easy Holiday Champagne Punch

  1. Chill Your Ingredients: For the best punch, ensure all your liquids are chilled beforehand.
  2. Mix It Up: In a large punch bowl, combine the apple cider, cranberry juice, bourbon, and limes. Stir gently.
  3. The Fizzy Finale: Just before serving, pour in the seltzer and champagne. Watch the magic happen as it fizzes up!

We always want to add the seltzer and champagne last because of the bubbles. But what makes champagne bubbly and why do the bubbles always seem to rise to the surface from certain spots of the glass? We can answer these questions with my favorite subject – kitchen chemistry!

Kitchen Chemistry

Champagne contains dissolved carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fermentation. When the bottle is sealed, carbon dioxide is under pressure, staying dissolved in the liquid. Once the bottle is opened, the pressure is released, allowing the carbon dioxide to escape, forming bubbles. These bubbles form at nucleation sites – tiny imperfections or particles in the glass. These sites provide the necessary surface for the carbon dioxide to gather and form bubbles, making it look like bubbles only come from certain points at the bottom of the glass.

two champagne glasses with skewers of fresh cranberries.

Small Batch Apple Cider Punch

This recipe makes a big batch for a party. But what if you’re just having a few friends over and want a few servings – enough for 6 to 8 or so people? Downscale to the following amounts:

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 liter (a little over 2 cups) cranberry juice
  • 1/2 liter seltzer
  • 1/2 bottle champagne (but really, you can just use the whole bottle because more champagne is never a bad thing!)
  • 1 cup bourbon or spirit of choice
  • a squeeze of one or two limes
glass of cranberry apple cider champagne punch on a tray with sugared cranberries.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Cranberry Cider Champagne Punch

  1. Pre-Chill Your Ingredients: Ensure all ingredients, especially the champagne and cider, are chilled before mixing. This keeps the punch cold without needing too much ice, which can dilute the flavors.
  2. Gentle Mixing: When combining ingredients, stir gently. Aggressive stirring can cause the champagne to lose its effervescence.
  3. Use an Ice Ring: Instead of regular ice cubes, create an ice ring with fruits like orange slices or cranberries frozen inside. This not only looks stunning but also chills the punch without watering it down.
  4. Customize Your Alcohol Content: Adjust the amount of bourbon to your preference. If you prefer a lighter punch, reduce the bourbon or omit it altogether.
  5. Garnish Creatively: Garnish with fresh or sugared cranberries, apple slices, lime wedges, or a sprig of rosemary for an elegant and festive touch.

More Party-Worthy Beverages:

two champagne glasses filled with cranberry cider punch

Cranberry Cider Champagne Punch

Yield: 48 8-ounce servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The perfect holiday party punch for a large crowd! Full of the best fall and winter flavors, it's an easy drink to make all season long!


  • 1 gallon (128 fl. ounces) apple cider
  • 2 liters (68 fl. ounces) cranberry juice
  • 2 liters (68 fl. ounces) seltzer
  • 2 bottles (50 fl. ounces) champagne or sparkling wine
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) bourbon or vodka
  • 3 limes, sliced into rounds
  • fresh cranberries or sugared cranberries, for garnish


Combine apple cider, cranberry juice, seltzer, champagne, and bourbon (or vodka) in a large drink dispenser and stir.  Add in sliced limes and top to fill the container with ice.  Garnish each drink with fresh cranberries.


  1. If you're preparing the punch ahead of time, wait to add the seltzer and champagne immediately before serving.
  2. For a smaller-batch punch (serves 6-8 people), quarter each ingredient (1/4 gallon cider, 1/2 liter cranberry juice and seltzer, 1/2 bottle champagne, 1 cup bourbon).

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Cranberry Cider Champagne Punch: the perfect holiday party punch, preferably with an extra splash of bourbon. Full of the best fall and winter flavors, it's an easy drink to make all season long!