Serves 4 to 8

I am such a fan of the after-dinner drink. Sure, you've had your bubbly to start, and your red wine with the meal, but hopefully you've saved a little room for a digestif, a hot tipple to round off the meal and smooth your way into the evening.

For our small, swanky Thanksgiving menu, I knew I wanted just such a drink, leaving something warm in guests' hands as they lingered around the table, talking into the evening. And the right book fell into my lap the moment I needed it. Here is the winter cocktail you're waiting for: A hot cranberry punch from Maria del Mar Sacasa, author of Winter Cocktails.

This drink is sweet, herbal, and a little spicy around the edges. It's made of cranberries simmered with honey and a bottle of the driest inexpensive Riesling you can find. Sage leaves give it a tonic aroma, and Benedictine — a classic liqueur with notes of sweet herbs and citrus — rounds it out. As you can see, the color is gorgeous.

(Photo: Rachel Joy Baransi for The Kitchn)

I served it in small cups for sipping slowly at the end of the meal. After dessert, it's a wonderful way to extend your time at the table.

But it's not just a digestif; I'm thinking about making this as a nightcap in the dark winter months. Its bright color and strong, hot sweetness would be very welcome in February, don't you think?


  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry Riesling, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup Benedictine liqueur


Place peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cranberries, honey, and 1 cup Riesling and simmer over medium heat until thick and syrupy and some of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes.

Smash cranberries with a fork. Add the remaining wine and sage, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture, smashing the cranberries once more, then discard solids. (At this point the strained mixture can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

To serve, add the Benedictine liqueur and warm over low heat until steaming. Serve in warm cups.

This recipe, Hot Cranberry Punch with Sage and Peppercorns, was originally written by Maria del Mar Sacasa for The Kitchn.

It is part of The Kitchn's A Small & Swanky Thanksgiving Dinner menu, which also includes the following ...

To Start

  • Gougères
  • Shrimp with Sriracha sauce
  • To drink: Bubbly wine