1Place cranberries, 1/4 cup of the water, and the brown sugar in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until the cranberries are completely smashed and the brown sugar has dissolved slightly.
2Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups water, apple cider or juice, brandy, lemon juice, and maple syrup and stir vigorously until well combined and the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour the mixture through a strainer set over a 10-cup pitcher and discard the solids left in the strainer. Chill for at least 1 hour, or until cold.
3If desired, transfer the mixture to a punch bowl and top with apple slices. To serve, pour 3 ounces of the punch into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a thin slice of apple.