Bishop Cocktail: The Rum and Red Wine Classic

Bishop Cocktail
A classic, the Bishop Cocktail is a rummed-up wine drink you'll love. Mocherie/E+/Getty Images
  • 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (1 serving)
Ratings (6)

If you look around, you will find countless recipes for a drink called the Bishop Cocktail. Most are a sort of red wine and fruit punch that is a bit like a simplified Sangria. It's a nice drink, but there's another Bishop Cocktail that you should know as well.

The Bishop is a classic cocktail and it is a little more interesting than the popular modern drinks under the name. This one comes from the 1935 printing of "The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book" by A.S. Crockett. The famous bartending guide actually includes two versions, one for a single serving and one a punch recipe.

What the classic Bishops have that most modern recipes do not is rum and it makes a world of difference. It takes the drink from a dressed up glass of wine into the cocktail world. It's a simple little change but an important one because the rum adds depth to the flavor.

No matter how you make it, the Bishop is an enjoyable cocktail and one that drinkers of all tastes will appreciate.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled red wine glass.

The Classic Bishop Punch

The main difference in the punch recipe is that it inverts the rum and wine, which is a smart move for any party. If we were to pour an entire bottle of rum into the punch bowl we would have some very intoxicated guests. So, like a Sangria, the wine dominates this classic punch.

It's a very easy punch to mix up and is better if you prepare it the night before. This gives the flavors a little extra time to meld and mesh to create a well-balanced drink.

To make the punch, combine 1 bottle red wine, 3 ounces rum, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and 4 barspoons superfine sugar in a punch bowl or pitcher. Stir well to make sure everything combines and the sugar dissolves. When it's time to serve, add ice and any variety of seasonal fruits you wish.

This punch will make about nine 4-ounce servings.

The Modern (Hold the Rum) Bishop Cocktail

If you are interested in the wine-only version of the Bishop Cocktail, it could not be easier. All you really need to do is replace the rum in the first recipe with wine. Many Bishop fans prefer a red wine from Burgundy, though any red you have in stock will do.

Also, many Bishop recipes call for a mix of lemon and orange juices rather than lime. Simply split the juice in the recipe between the two. 

If you like, stick to the simple syrup because there's no need to worry about it dissolving. Powdered sugar is preferred for this drink over granulated and a teaspoon of either will sweeten the drink just fine. However, you will need to stir the drink thoroughly.

The last difference is that many modern Bishop Cocktails are served on the rocks in a highball glass. In reality, you can serve either Bishop with or without ice, depending on your mood.

How Strong Are the Bishop Cocktails?

These three Bishop Cocktails may look similar but their alcohol content paints a very different picture.

It's amazing what a little rum can do to the strength of a drink, as we can see when we run the numbers on the recipes.

  • The Classic Bishop: 27% ABV (54 proof)
  • The Bishop Punch: 11% ABV (22 proof)
  • The Modern Bishop Cocktail: 9% ABV (18 proof)

To put these adaptations into perspective, imagine for a minute if we did not switch the rum and wine in the punch recipe. With a full bottle of rum, it would be a hefty 31% ABV (62 proof). That's fine for your nightly Martini, but when you're serving a crowd it's simply too strong.