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Witches' Brew

['2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks', '5 whole cloves', '3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger', '1/3 cup water', '1/3 cup sugar', '1 (25 1/4-ounce) bottle sparkling cider (about 3 1/4 cups), chilled', '4 cups cranberry juice cocktail, chilled', '1 (1-liter) bottle club soda or seltzer, chilled', '1 cup dark rum (optional)', '"Ice blocks in any shape (see cooks note', 'below)"']

Bring cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, water, and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, uncovered, 1 hour.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids, then chill until cold.
Combine all remaining ingredients, except ice, with syrup in a punch bowl. Add ice before serving.

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