Every year on June 19, thousands of Black Americans gather for picnics, dinner parties, and barbecues. No matter the type of meal, all are celebrating the moment on June 19, 1865, when Black Texans were informed that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln more than two years prior.
Various foods—and red drinks in particular—are essential to the Juneteenth experience. Red drinks symbolize the blood of the millions of enslaved people who died and suffered, but the origin of the beverages dates even further back. Two native West African plants, the kola nut and the hibiscus flower, were both commonly steeped for tea by enslaved people. Both would turn glasses of bitter water a red hue.
Today, Red Drink encompasses everything from red-tinged lemonade to cocktails. Juneteenth party hosts often get creative by working with red fruits like cherries and strawberries, as well as with red-colored carbonated drinks like Texas’s own Big Red soda.
The recipe below, originally published on Delish, comes from Bronx-based chef Millie Peartree, owner of MP Fish Fry & Soul Food. Millie is also the founder of Full Heart Full Bellies, a nonprofit that feeds children facing food insecurity. This kid-friendly punch will make enough to serve a large crowd, so feel free to double or halve the amounts depending on the size of your group!
- 6 cup cranberry juice
- 4 cup (1 quart) pineapple juice
- 4 cup (1 quart) orange juice
- ¼ cup lemon or lime juice
- 1 liter ginger ale or 7UP chilled
- ½ gallon strawberry sorbet
- 1 navel orange sliced
- 1 cup pineapple chunks or rings
- Maraschino cherries for garnish
- Sliced strawberries for garnish
- In a large punch bowl, stir together cranberry juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and ginger ale. Add sorbet and garnish with fresh fruit.
- Serve immediately in chilled glasses.