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Cocktails

Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned

Skip the supper club and make this classic cocktail at home. This Wisconsin brandy old fashioned recipe can be made sweet or sour. Swap whiskey if you want, just don’t forget the cherries. Makes 1 cocktail.

three wisconsin brandy old fashioned cocktails, each topped with an orange slice and different garnish skewer: cherries, olives and pickled mushrooms

We have a lot of unique food traditions here in Wisconsin. From these unconventional brandy old fashioned cocktails to chicken booyah and deep fried cheese curds (which I will attempt to recreate without cheese), there are so many awesome foods I want to teach your about. So I’ve decided to start The Supper Club Series to share classic Wisconsin recipes and recreate them without milk when needed.

overhead shot of three brandy old fashioned cocktails, the front cocktail topped with a skewer of three maraschino cherries, a jigger beside the glasses

The first in the series is Wisconsins’s most classic cocktail: the brandy old fashioned. A traditional old fashioned cocktail uses whiskey, but here, we make them with brandy. The reasons aren’t really clear, since most of this sort of stuff gets lost to history. Popular theories are that brandy was more familiar to German immigrants and that brandy was more readily available during prohibition times, but I’ll leave the historical internet research to you. Just know that you can order your old fashioned with either brandy or whiskey and no one will think twice about it.

Another thing that makes a Wisconsin old fashioned different than its more widespread counterpart is the “wash”. A wash is basically when you add soda or seltzer to a cocktail after mixing it. I’ve described the different ways we use this wash below, and you can choose whichever option you like best.

More cocktails fun:  ginger saketinis / jam cocktails / pamplemousse fizz

 

wisconsin brandy old fashioned ingredients

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Here’s what you’ll need to make a brandy old fashioned:

  • Old fashioned glasses
  • Muddler
  • Jigger
  • Cocktail picks
Dairy Free Tip: Not all alcohol is dairy free. Please make sure you’re choosing brands that aren’t processed using milk products. I normally reference this site’s database to see if the product I’m looking for is vegan, or to see if there’s a safe alternative. In this case, Korbel brandy, one of Wisconsin’s more popular brands, isn’t vegan friendly, so I’ve chosen a different option. This is a great please to search for vegan friendly alcohol.

process shot, overhead view of an old fashioned glass with an orange slice, maraschino cherry and sugar cube in the bottom. orange slices and maraschino cherries in separate bowls next to the glass, more empty glasses in the background

How to make a Wisconsin brandy old fashioned

Muddle the flavors. In an old fashioned glass, muddle an orange slice, maraschino cherry with a little bit of grenadine from the jar, sugar cube and a few dashes of bitters. Traditionally, Angostura bitters are used, but you can use another flavor if you want.

Add brandy and ice. On top of your muddled ingredients, add in 1 jigger of brandy (or a little more if you want). Stir the liquor around, and fill your glass with ice.

Top it off and garnish. Read below to find out how we customize and garnish a brandy old fashioned in Wisconsin.

pouring club soda into a wisconsin style brandy old fashioned cocktail (two glasses behind)

Sweet, sour or press: wash it your way

To make this a true Wisconsin style old fashioned, you have a two traditional choices once you muddle your drink, add your liquor and ice. Sweet or sour. If you want to make a brandy old fashioned sweet, you would top your drink with lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7Up. For a brandy old fashioned sour, you would use grapefruit soda, like 50/50 or Squirt.

But, my favorite way to make this cocktail is a press. Instead of soda, I top my drink with half lemon-lime soda and half seltzer water (or club soda). I order mine like this to cut down on the amount of sugar, but I also think it lets the other flavors in the cocktail shine through.

three wisconsin brandy old fashioned cocktails, the front cocktail topped with a skewer of three maraschino cherries, a jigger and bottle of bitters beside the glasses

Garnish your brandy old fashioned like a Wisconsinite

Regardless of how you like your old fashioned, there’s one thing you don’t want to skip, and that’s the garnish. If you order an old fashioned at a bar in Wisconsin, you’ll be asked what kind of garnish you want. Cherries are an obvious choice (and what I always go with), but lots of people choose olives or pickled mushrooms. Good bars will even stock pickled Brussels sprouts, so you could choose that as well.

If you’re making these drinks at home, cherries and olives are a great start. If you like and will use the pickled mushrooms, get those, too.

overhead shot of three wisconsin brandy old fashioned cocktails, each topped with an orange slice and different garnish skewer: cherries, olives and pickled mushrooms

Print
three wisconsin brandy old fashioned cocktails, the front cocktail topped with a skewer of three maraschino cherries, a jigger and bottle of bitters beside the glasses

Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail
  • Category: Cocktail

Description

Skip the supper club and make this classic cocktail at home. This Wisconsin brandy old fashioned recipe can be made sweet or sour. Swap whiskey if you want, just don’t forget the cherries.


Ingredients

  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry + 1 teaspoon cherry juice
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 4 – 6 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy
  • Ice
  • Lemon-lime, grapefruit soda or seltzer water

Instructions

  1. In an old fashioned glass, muddle orange slice, cherry, cherry juice, sugar cube and bitters.
  2. Add brandy and fill glass with ice.
  3. Top with soda of choice.
  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy
    December 6, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Trevor loves old fashioneds so much!

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      December 6, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Yes! That’s because they’re the best 🙂

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