For spice syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
A chilled 25.4-ounce bottle sparkling cider (about 3 1/4 cups)
A chilled 1-quart bottle cranberry juice cocktail
A chilled 1-liter bottle club soda or seltzer water
1 cup dark rum if desired
Ice blocks in any shape*
Make spice syrup:
In a small saucepan bring syrup ingredients to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Cool syrup. Syrup may be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.
In a punch bowl combine remaining ingredients and strain syrup through a fine sieve into punch. Stir punch and add ice blocks. Makes about 13 cups.