9 Midwestern Drinks You’ve Never Heard Of

These lesser-known Midwest cocktails are worth trying tonight.

1 / 9
Christmas Tom and Jerry cocktail, whipped cream eggnog with spices, dairy milk beverage, with christmas decorations, rustic wooden background
Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

Tom & Jerry

In 1862, Jerry Thomas, bartender at the Planter’s House Hotel in St. Louis, published a recipe for the Tom & Jerry. The warm, spiced rum-based cocktail, topped with a cloud of whipped egg whites, is perfect for the holidays and winter months. You know you’re from the Midwest if you’ve had a Tom & Jerry, and tried all these foods.

2 / 9
cocktail drink wiskey and orange on rustic background

Cohasset Punch

Invented by Chicago bartender Gus Williams, the Cohasset Punch was hugely popular around the turn of the 19th century. The original recipe called for rum, vermouth, orange bitters and canned peaches. Modern recipes sometimes swap out pineapple for peaches and rye for vermouth. Find more vintage drinks that deserve a comeback.

3 / 9
shot of whiskey on old wooden surface

Jeppson’s Malort

A rite of passage for new arrivals to Chicago? A shot of Malort! Made in Chicago since the 1930s, Malort is known mainly for its absolutely awful flavor. The Swedish-style liquor is flavored with bitter wormwood; traditionally, it’s said to have medicinal properties. See the other U.S. regional classics you’ve never heard of.

4 / 9
Glass of lemon juice on wooden table, top view
Africa Studio/Shutterstock


Popular in Missouri and Kansas, the Horsefeather was invented in Lawrence, Kansas in the 1990s. This simple highball is made with rye, ginger beer, bitters and lemon juice. It’s equal parts refreshing and bracing.

5 / 9
Pink cocktail and marshmallows isolated on white gray background.
Kaichankava Larysa/Shutterstock

Pink Squirrel

Midwesterners love a good ice cream cocktail. Numerous retro-style cocktail bars specialize in the frosty beverages: Fountain on Locust in St. Louse, Bryant’s in Milwaukee and Pink Squirrel in Chicago.

This delicious, pink confection combines creme de cacao, creme de noyaux and vanilla ice cream.

6 / 9
Rich and Creamy Milkshake with whipped cream
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock


Another ice cream drink! Michigan’s unofficial state cocktail, the Hummer is a frosty blend of vanilla ice cream, white rum, Kahlua and ice cubes. Though it’s frosty, the rich cocktail is perfect for winter. It was invented in February by Jerome Adams, a bartender at Detroit’s Bayview Yacht Club. We found the signature cocktail from each U.S. state, too.

7 / 9
pink cocktail on the counter bar.
Anuwat Pantong/Shutterstock

Salty Dog

Invented in the Chicago Ambassador East hotel’s famous Pump Room, the salty dog is a potent blend of grapefruit juice, vodka and salt. The eye-wateringly powerful drink, with its boost of vitamin C, is perfect for long Midwestern winters.

8 / 9
Glass of refreshing lemonade with mint on table, closeup. Summer drink; Shutterstock ID 1441602839; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
New Africa/Shutterstock

The Bootleg

The Bootleg was invented in Minnesota around the time of Prohibition. Similar to a mojito, but with the addition of a lemonade-like syrup, the refreshing cocktail was enjoyed by elite vacationers summering around Lake Minnetonka, including F. Scott Fitzgerald.

9 / 9
Greek famous food: cheese and olives with a glass of beer on the table, Athens, Greece


The Beertini sounds…well, fake. It’s a tall glass of beer topped off with a handful of olives—not very appetizing, right? But the sour-salty-fermented drink is surprisingly refreshing, and popular across the Midwest. You might also hear it called the Wisconsin, Minnesota or North Dakota Martini, depending on where you are.

Next, check out the Southern drinks you’ve never heard of.

Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes, cooks and travels from her home base of Chicago. After going gluten-free over a decade ago, Kelsey turned to home cooking and baking as a way to recreate her favorite foods. Her specialties include gluten-free sourdough bread, pizza and pastry. When not wrangling her toddler, she enjoys reading, watching old movies and writing. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, was published by William Morrow in 2019, and her second is forthcoming.