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Cheerwine punch returns to store shelves for the holidays

Southerners might put up their Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving, but for some, the holiday season starts when Cheerwine Holiday Punch hits store shelves.

Cheerwine, the 100-year-old, family-owned soft drink company based in Salisbury, said Tuesday that Cheerwine punch will be available for a limited time — the “most wonderful time of the year”— across the Carolinas through Dec. 31.

“Since before the 1930s, Cheerwine punch has been a part of my family’s holiday traditions for generations, just like it’s been a holiday tradition for many families in the Carolinas,” said Joy Ritchie-Harper, director of marketing for Cheerwine and a fifth-generation founding family member.

“It’s an important part of our celebrations year-round, but this holiday season, we’ll be toasting to the end of a special year: our 100th anniversary.”

The wild cherry taste of Cheerwine is a staple of Carolina culture. Cheerwine Holiday Punch is flavored with bubbly ginger ale and tangy pineapple. Harper offered a few tried-and-true tips for making Cheerwine punch extra festive for holiday celebrations:

• For the traditionalist: 2-liter bottles of Cheerwine Punch will be sold throughout North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as online at www.Cheerwine.com.

Cheerwine fans who want to make the traditional Cheerwine punch recipe at home can combine two 2-liter bottles of Cheerwine, one 2-liter bottle of ginger ale and two 46-ounce cans of unsweetened pineapple juice. Serve in a drink dispenser or a punch bowl.

• For the Pinterest addict: Dress up a punch bowl with a holiday wreath around the base and create an ice ring in a bundt pan with fruit and Cheerwine Holiday Punch. As the ice ring melts, the punch retains its flavor and takes on some of the character of the fruit.

In lieu of a punch bowl, Harper suggests floating cranberries and mint leaves in a pitcher or keeping drinks cool with frozen raspberries or frozen fruit “ice cubes.”  Glasses can be garnished with sliced lime.

• For grown-ups: To add an adults-only kick, mix one part Cheerwine punch with one part champagne for a sparkling Southern treat. Rimming a champagne flute with sugar adds a sweet — and pretty — touch.

• For those with a sweet tooth: The Cheerwine float can be modified for the holidays. Pour Cheerwine punch over a scoop of sherbet or ice cream for a twist on the classic treat. Add a few scoops of sherbet or ice cream to the punch bowl for a cool creaminess.

Holiday gifts for Cheerwine fans are available at www.Cheerwine.com. Cheerwine’s online store offers 100th anniversary apparel, glassware, specialty Mason jars, metal signs, coolers and more for purchase.

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