Pisco Punch – Duncan Nicol’s Classic 1890s Cocktail

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History Of The Pisco Punch

Invented in the 1890s at the Bank Exchange Saloon in San Francisco, the Pisco Punch recipe was kept a closely guarded secret by it’s creator Duncan Nicol. Over time people started to learn that Duncan Nicols punch contained Pisco, gum syrup, pineapple juice and lemon juice but the exact proportions have always remained hidden. Mr. Nicol would even pre mix large containers of the drink in the backroom by himself so no one could see him make it. Some believed it even contained some cocaine. Once prohibition kicked in in 1920, Duncan Nicol shut the doors of the Bank Exchange Saloon and retired from bartending at the age of 65. Even after closing his bar he never revealed the full recipe. So keep in mind that this is not the original recipe, but an assumption of what that original recipe could have been based on comparing all the different version of the drink that exist.

Secret Ingredient And Original Recipe

No one actually knows the exact recipe for this cocktail as it’s creator, Duncan Nicol, took it to the grave with him in 1926. Duncan Nicols went to great lengths to make sure his Pisco punch recipe stayed a secret and would pre mix it alone. During the time he sold it, people began to guess that it most likely contained pisco, gum syrup, pineapple juice and lemon juice. Many even believed it contained cocaine as a secret ingredient to provide a bit of a pick me up. That actually wouldn’t be too unusual during that time period as cocaine was not regulated and several other beverages had it. (Thats actually how Coca-Cola started as an american version of a French coca wine.) No one ever found out the promotions though and the recipe I have provided here is an averaging of all the different variations of this cocktail. Averaging doesn’t always produce the best recipes but in this case I think its spot on.


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Pisco Punch – Classic 1890s Recipe

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






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Learn how to make a classic Pisco Punch.


  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1/3 oz Gum Syrup

  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice

  • 2 oz Pisco


  • Add ice to the serving glass. Combine all the ingredients in the serving glass.
  • Give the drink a couple turns to chill and mix.


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