An Old Fashioned With … Brandy? This Must Be Wisconsin. (2024)

U.S.|An Old Fashioned With … Brandy? This Must Be Wisconsin.



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Two state legislators want to declare this the state co*cktail. “I’ve had a couple of calls from people: ‘Don’t you have more important work to do?’” one said.

So you’re at a classy party and you approach the bartender. You adjust your tie and ask for an old-fashioned. The charismatic bartender smiles knowingly and reaches for his finest bourbon. But no, you interrupt. You’d like it with brandy.

You are either A. a contrarian. B. wrong. or C. from Wisconsin.

If the answer is C, do we have the resolution for you.

Two Republican state legislators from Wisconsin, Representative Jon Plumer and Senator Cory Tomczyk, introduced a resolution on Oct. 18 making the brandy-based old-fashioned the official Wisconsin state co*cktail. (This is not to be confused with Wisconsin’s official state drink: Milk.)

If you go to any other state in the country and order brandy anything, they look at you funny,” Mr. Plumer said in an interview. “But I just thought, ‘How has this never been done?’ It’s a tongue-in-cheek resolution. And I’ve had a couple of calls from people: ‘Don’t you have more important work to do?’ But I don’t think we do. This is what makes Wisconsin unique.”

The classic, more popular version of an old-fashioned has a base of bourbon, rye or another type of whiskey. (We all saw that classic “Mad Men” scene where Don Draper smoothly makes one for Conrad Hilton. Right?) The co*cktail itself goes back to the early 1800s, though the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Ky., claims it originated at least a version of it in the latter half of the century.

Brandy old-fashioneds have a long history in Wisconsin, the resolution notes. The state accounts for at least half of the brandy maker Korbel’s annual sales in the United States.

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An Old Fashioned With … Brandy? This Must Be Wisconsin. (2024)


An Old Fashioned With … Brandy? This Must Be Wisconsin.? ›

But in Wisconsin, brandy usually replaces whiskey — and it's most often poured over a mixture of muddled cherries, orange slices, sugar and bitters. Depending on how sweet or sour the imbiber likes it, the concoction is then topped with a lemon-lime soft drink, sour mix, club soda, or some combination.

What brandy is best for Old Fashioned in Wisconsin? ›

brandy: It's traditional to use Korbel (Core-bell) brandy in a Wisconsin old fashioned, but at the end of the day, any decent brandy will do. If you really can't stand to use brandy, just swap for bourbon. 7-up, sprite, squirt, or club soda: Totally your choice here based on whether you want it sweet, sour, or press.

What makes a Wisconsin Old Fashioned different? ›

If you order an Old Fashioned in 49 out of 50 states, you can expect a whiskey co*cktail made with sugar, water and bitters, typically Angostura. In Wisconsin, however, the Old Fashioned ditches convention. Wisconsinites swap their whiskey for a brandy-based mixture served one of three ways: sweet, sour or press.

What is a Brandy Old Fashioned made of? ›

Steps. Add the bitters, orange slices, cherries and sugar cube to an Old Fashioned glass and muddle to combine. Add ice to fill the glass, then add the brandy. Top with the 7UP, Sprite or club soda, and stir to chill.

Why is brandy a Wisconsin thing? ›

Brandy's popularity in Wisconsin started when a large number of German immigrants moved here in the 19th century and couldn't find their favorite drink, brandewijn. This prompted Korbel to start distilling for the public in 1889. Small-batch local distilleries produce – or have produced – brandy, too.

What brandy is made in Wisconsin? ›

Several Wisconsin Distilleries have taken up the task of creating their own versions of Wisconsin's signature spirit, Brandy. Central Standard Craft Distillery, Drink Wisconsinbly, Driftless Glen, Dancing Goat and Door County Distillery all have delicious brandies worthy of your Old Fashioned.

What's the difference between a Brandy Old Fashioned and a brandy Manhattan? ›

The main difference between the two co*cktails lies in the sweeteners used in each. The Old Fashioned calls for sugar, either as a cube or in simple syrup format (where sugar is dissolved into water), whereas the Manhattan employs sweet vermouth, a type of fortified wine.

What is a famous Wisconsin co*cktail? ›

Wisconsin's Twist on a Classic — The Brandy Old Fashioned

Did you know Wisconsin consumes the most brandy per capita in the country? Part of the reason is due to our official state co*cktail, the Brandy Old Fashioned. It's the Old Fashioned co*cktail you know and love, with brandy in place of whiskey.

What state drinks the most Old Fashioned? ›

The widespread availability of the co*cktail has made it a deeply personal tradition for most Wisconsinites, often evoking deep-seated memories. “A brandy Old Fashioned was my first co*cktail with my dad,” says Hughes. “I definitely have had plenty of them, but every time you taste one, it brings you back.”

Which is stronger Manhattan or Old Fashioned? ›

A: A Manhattan is typically a stronger and more boozy-tasting drink than an Old Fashioned due to the addition of vermouth and the absence of sugar.

How much brandy does Wisconsin drink? ›

Even though the state ranks 20th when it comes to overall population, the residents account for more than half of the sales of Korbel brandy. According to Milwaukee Magazine, in 2019, Korbel sold 275,000 cases of brandy in the U.S., and more than 150,000 of them were bought in Wisconsin.

What are brandy and co*ke called? ›


How to order an Old Fashioned at a bar? ›

There's no wrong way to order an Old Fashioned, simply state what you want and how you want it. Start by saying the type of whisky you fancy, followed by any tweaks you want to make. It could be with a twist, an extra dash of bitters or syrup instead of sugar.

What is the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Wisconsin Old Fashioned? ›

Nationally, Old Fashioneds are typically made with rye or bourbon whiskey, but the true Wisconsin Old Fashioned is made with brandy -- Korbel by tradition.

What is the difference between cognac and brandy? ›

Examples of brandy include pisco, armagnac or Obstler (a brandy produced in Austria and Switzerland). Cognac, however, is always made with grapes and has a very specific distillation and blending process located in a small, protected area in the southwest of France. considered as brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.”

Why is alcohol so cheap in Wisconsin? ›

Wisconsin has one of the lowest alcohol tax rates in the country, which lowers retail and wholesale prices; Busalacchi says the tax rate for beer hasn't increased since 1969.

What is the best alcohol to make an Old Fashioned with? ›

With that said, bourbon is often the go-to whiskey choice for an Old Fashioned. The relatively heavy body of the mostly corn-based spirit creates structure within the co*cktail, and its natural sweetness helps counterbalance the more astringent elements of bitters.

What is the most popular liquor in Wisconsin? ›

And finally, while they aren't as popular as the other alcoholic drinks above, our data showed that gin is most popular in New York, rum is most popular in Hawaii and Louisiana, and brandy is most popular in Wisconsin.

What is USA's number 1 brandy? ›

Leading brandy & cognac brands in the U.S. 2022, based on volume sales. In 2022, Hennessy was the leading brandy and cognac brand in the United States with about 4.1 million 9 liter cases sold. E&J ranked second with 3.5 million cases sold.

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