The Trader Joe's Punch That Makes The Perfect Base For Winter Cocktails

Wintertime boasts many cherished gastronomic traditions that are meant to impart warmth and good cheer. Freshly baked cookies still warm from the oven come to mind, as do deeply flavored soups and stews. And of course, what a frigid winter evening seems to cry out for more than anything else is a comforting hot drink.

From hot cocoa brimming with mini marshmallows to mulled wine scented with cinnamon sticks to warm apple cider that perhaps hides a slip of rum or brandy, hot winter beverages are some of the most festive indulgences of the season. And the traditions of these drinks tend to go back ages and ages, with mulled wine dating back to the Roman Empire, according to Medieval Histories, and wassail, a variation of hot punch featuring apples, fresh citrus juice, and plenty of mulling spices, having originated in 14th century Europe, per Merriam-Webster. And that latter drink tradition is still going strong today, even available in a bottled version at Trader Joe's that's great warm or cold, virgin or spiked.

TJ's version includes apples, blackcurrants, lemon juice, and orange peels

If you like holiday punch but don't necessarily feel like going through the process of squeezing fresh juices and mixing them all together, you might want to check out Trader Joe's Winter Wassail Punch, a bottled version of the traditional European punch that's made with apple, blackcurrant, and lemon juices, plus aromatics such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and orange peels. According to a recent post from Trader Joe's List on Instagram, the limited-time-only drink is back on store shelves now.

As Merriam-Webster explains, the word "wassail" derives from the Old Norse toast "ves heill," or "be well," one that would have made extra sense come wintertime and all its sniffles. By the 14th century, the word was being used for the drink being used to toast, typically warm wine, beer, or cider mulled with spices, sugar, and baked apples. "Wassail" also began to refer to the Christmastime tradition of caroling, as in the traditional English carol "Here We Come A-Wassailing" (via The Hymns and Carols of Christmas).

Whether you plan to carol or not, TJ's wassail punch makes a tasty treat either on its own or, preferably, when warmed with red wine, rum, or bourbon. Wassail!