Easy, Elegant Christmas Punchfood

Easy, Elegant Christmas Punch

There are no hard-and-fast rules for Christmas punch -- or most holiday season drinks, for that matter. There are fruity varieties, made with pineapple juice and finished with orange slices, apple cider punches, prosecco and Champagne punches, and nonalcoholic versions. To counter the intensity of the booze, most have a sweet element like cranberry juice, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda, and some double down with ice cream or sherbet that melt into creamy puddles. In short: There's no wrong way to make a holiday drink if you and your guests enjoy it. This recipe keeps things simple and understated, but potent, with cognac as its base. Look for bottles labeled VSOP, which stands for very superior old pale and means the cognac has been aged for at least four years. For the sherry, you want something dry or lightly sweet to balance the simple lemon syrup. Using an ice ring or mold instead of ice cubes keeps the holiday punch cold without watering it down before your Christmas party even gets started. If you don't have a punch bowl, now's the time and this one is also a cake stand (yes, really). That said, a pitcher works equally well, though you may need to rethink the ice..