Candy Cane Punch

Candy Cane Punch

This Candy Cane Punch is our “Holiday Season” rendition on a punch inspired by coquito.  The original cocktail typically includes sweetened condensed milk, cream of coconut, and rum.  And since the coquito originated in the Caribbean, it’s no wonder that the drink usually includes spices such as cinnamon, clove, and star anise. 

We decided to add El Guapo Candy Cane Syrup to the recipe for peppermint-driven holiday twist.  We swapped out the cream of coconut for oat milk, which harmonizes better with peppermint. And while the coquito tends to lean on the super-sweet side, we felt the need to tone down the sweetness by adding a few bitter elements to the recipe. We've included instructions for making your own candy cane sugar, which you can use to rim the glasses if you want. Tie on a little scarf or ribbon to each stem and you've got yourself one entertaining holiday cocktail.

“This is a rich drink that could almost double as a dessert—but it really demands to be served with a plate of holiday cookies. The peppermint syrup adds a more subtle minty flavor than peppermint extract. And I like how the Campari cuts the sweetness and gives this punch a more grownup flavor.” —Adriana Velez

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Candy Cane Sugar

  • 5 miniature candy canes

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the Cocktail

  • 24 ounces (3 cups) oat milk

  • 18 ounces (2 1/4 cups) Caribbean rum

  • 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream

  • 9 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) agave nectar

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) El Guapo Candy Cane syrup

  • 3 ounces Campari

  • 24 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

  • 24 dashes Angostura “Cocoa” Bitters

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Candy Cane Punch ingredients in bowls and measuring cups

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Make the candy cane sugar. Take 5 miniature candy canes and break them into smaller pieces. Grind them in a coffee or spice grinder until they become a powder, about 10-15 seconds.

    Candy cane in a coffee grinder

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Pour the powder into a small bowl. Add granulated sugar to the powder and stir until both are mixed together.

    Ground candy cane with sugar in a bowl with a metal spoon

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Garnish the glasses. Wet the rim of each glass with a little rum or Campari. Rim each glass with candy cane sugar and tie a miniature scarf around each stem, if desired. Keep glasses chilled in the freezer.

    Glass dipped into the candy cane mixture in a bowl and another glass rimmed with the candy cane mixture

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Combine all the cocktail ingredients in a large pitcher. Stir gently for 3 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

    Candy cane punch in a pitcher

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Give the punch another stir and pour about 6 ounces into each prepared glass and serve cold, without ice.

    Candy Cane Punch in a pitcher and in a glass, that's rimmed with candy cane sugar

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Tips

  • Peychaud’s bitters are pretty much the same as Creole bitters. They both have star anise flavor and a deep red color, which contributes greatly to the pink outcome of the cocktail. 
  • In case you have trouble locating Angostura “Cocoa” Bitters, you can substitute with any bitters that have a chocolate flavor.
  • El Guapo Candy Cane syrup can easily be found online. But the best substitute is Rumple Minze Peppermint Liqueur.
  • You can use any non-dairy milk to balance out the richness from the heavy cream.
  • If lactose intolerant, just use more non-dairy milk instead of heavy cream.
  • Ten to One Light Rum is best for this recipe.

Non-Alcoholic Candy Cane Punch

If you would like to make a non-alcoholic version of this cocktail, follow the same recipe but make the following adjustments:

  • Replace Peychaud’s bitters with non-alcoholic Creole bitters.
  • Replace Angostura Cocoa bitters with Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters.
  • Replace Campari with Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters.
  • Replace light rum with Lyre’s White Cane Non-alcoholic spirit.

Make It a Gift

This cocktail also makes for a fun gift. Use a funnel to pour the punch into a clean bottle, seal well, and tie on a colorful ribbon with a candy cane. Attach a note reminding the recipient to keep it refrigerated.

How to Store

Be sure to refrigerate in a tightly-sealed container or pitcher (use plastic wrap, if possible).  Try not to store for more than 2 weeks.  Always stir before serving.

If you need to store for longer you can keep it in a freezer for up to a month.  Fit a freezer bag inside a large measuring cup or pitcher and pour in the punch. Seal tightly, remove from the cup or pitcher, and place inside a second bag, then place in the freezer. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

How Strong Is a Candy Cane Punch?

Some rum is 80-proof, and others are over-proof.  So, depending on the alcohol percentage of the rum you choose, this cocktail should be between 8-10% alcohol by volume.


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