Mississippi Punch: A Cocktail for Mississippi

A reliable recipe that has evolved over the decades

Mississippi Punch has a history as long and winding as its namesake river. First printed in the 1862 cocktail guide How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion, by Jerry Thomas, it’s stayed alive by evolving. Cocktail authority David Wondrich has called the drink “Mississippi history in a glass”: French cognac, American bourbon, Jamaican/British rum, Spanish lemons, and sugar. In Imbibe!, his book on Thomas’s guide, Wondrich admits it’s not known if the original recipe might have traveled downstream from St. Louis or upriver from New Orleans. But by the 1850s, individual cocktails were beginning to supplant big-batch punches, and the ingredients migrated into a large bar glass and were shaken with ice. With its reliance on dark liquors, this is a punch for people who want to taste the alcohol in their drink.


    • 2 oz. cognac

    • 1 oz. bourbon

    • 1 oz. dark rum

    • ½ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

    • 2 tsp. superfine sugar


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients, shake, and strain into a tall glass over ice. Serve with a straw.

Adapted by David Wondrich from Jerry Thomas’s 1862 version.