Classics with a Twist: The Brandy Old Fashioned (2024)

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Updated 01/20/21

Classics with a Twist: The Brandy Old Fashioned (1)

A co*cktail, by definition, includes a spirit, sugar, water and bitters—and those four ingredients are exactly what you’ll find in an Old Fashioned. It’s as classic as drinks get. Most Old Fashioneds are made with whiskey, but considering the Old Fashioned is more of a template than an exact recipe, today you will find the drink made with numerous spirits, from tequila to rum. But one variation is equally notable for its prescribed spirit and its geographical roots.

The Brandy Old Fashioned, aka the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, is practically the state’s official drink. In addition to brandy, it calls for muddled fruit and a topper of lemon-lime soda. So, it’s not your great-great-grandfather’s Old Fashioned. Well, unless he’s from Wisconsin.

Doctoring drinks with muddled fruit was a popular ploy during Prohibition that was used to mask the taste of subpar spirits. Add enough fruit and sugar to a co*cktail, and anything is bound to become palatable. In the case of the Old Fashioned, the trick stuck around and remained popular in Wisconsin, even in the 21st century as modern bartenders reclaimed the classic no-fruit recipe. As for the brandy, it’s a product of the many Wisconsinites who emigrated from Europe over the centuries, bringing a taste for brandy with them.

Today, the Brandy Old Fashioned is tied to Wisconsin more than any other locale, and the fruit and soda are nonnegotiable. Visit a bar in the Badger State, and this sweet, bubbly version will be placed before you. It may not be the Old Fashioned you’re used to, but it’s an important piece of co*cktail history all the same.


  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

  • 2 orange slices

  • 2 brandied or maraschino cherries

  • 1 sugar cube

  • 2 ounces brandy

  • 7UP, Sprite or club soda, chilled, to top

  • Garnish: brandied or maraschino cherry

  • Garnish: orange slice


  1. Add the bitters, orange slices, cherries and sugar cube to an Old Fashioned glass and muddle to combine.

  2. Add ice to fill the glass, then add the brandy.

  3. Top with the 7UP, Sprite or club soda, and stir to chill.

  4. Garnish with a skewered cherry and an orange slice.

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Classics with a Twist: The Brandy Old Fashioned (2024)


What is the best brandy for an Old Fashioned? ›

In most bars, these co*cktails are made with Korbel brandy. Another good choice is to pick up a bottle of Central Standard North 40 Brandy.

What's the difference between an Old Fashioned and a brandy old fashioned? ›

For the unfamiliar, the old fashioned co*cktail in just about every place other than Wisconsin is traditionally made with a whiskey, like bourbon, sugar and bitters. But in Wisconsin, brandy usually replaces whiskey — and it's most often poured over a mixture of muddled cherries, orange slices, sugar and bitters.

Why does Wisconsin use brandy in Old Fashioned? ›

The Wisconsin variation came about post-World War II when liquor distributors in Wisconsin found a cache of around 30,000 cases of quality brandy that they sold, which became more popular than the bad whiskey that was sold during the war, according to the book "Wisconsin co*cktails."

What is the state drink of Wisconsin old fashioned? ›

Wisconsin crowns the brandy old fashioned as the official state co*cktail : NPR. Wisconsin crowns the brandy old fashioned as the official state co*cktail Lawmakers in Wisconsin have passed a resolution declaring the state's official co*cktail: the brandy old fashioned.

What brandy is best for Wisconsin old fashioned? ›

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

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 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 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 state drinks the most Old Fashioned? ›

To this day Wisconsin buys copious amounts -- roughly a third of the brandy Korbel produces every year goes to Wisconsin. Now, if you remember, the liquor in the Whiskey co*cktail/Old Fashioned was interchangeable, so those brandy-loving Wisconsinites swapped out whiskey for brandy and the Brandy Old Fashioned was born.

What is the top selling brandy in Wisconsin? ›

It may surprise some to learn that the Badger State consumes more brandy than anywhere else in the United States. In 2019, Wisconsinites accounted for more than half of the worldwide sales of Korbel brandy.

What state buys the most brandy? ›

Wisconsin drinks more brandy than any other state, and most of our brandy consumption goes into the Wisconsin old fashioned – a muddle of sugar, bitters, orange and maraschino cherries topped with brandy and then sweet or sour soda and a bevy of garnishes.

Is an old fashioned a girl drink? ›

Similarly, for the past few decades, the old-fashioned has been seen as a man's drink, but after Prohibition, the old-fashioned was one of the most popular drinks ordered by women. Understanding this connection between women and co*cktail culture places women back into a story that popular culture has removed them from.

Is an old fashioned a sipping drink? ›

Glass: The Old Fashioned is one of the few drinks in existence that has a glass named in its honor. The ideal glass should be between eight to 10 ounces, with a thick heavy bottom. Ice: This is a sipping co*cktail, but you don't want that expensive booze turning into a watery mess.

What is Wisconsin's signature drink? ›

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.

Which brandy is best for co*cktails? ›

Let's explore all the brandies you should be mixing with at your bar right now and why!
  • Bertoux Brandy. ...
  • Cognac Du Peyrat Organic Selection. ...
  • H by Hine VSOP Cognac. ...
  • Chateau D'Arton Armagnac Fine Blanche. ...
  • Lustau Solera Reserva Brandy. ...
  • Never Sink Spirits Apple Brandy. ...
  • Cognac Monnet VS. ...
  • Delord Blanche Armagnac.

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 are the 4 types of brandy? ›

Seven types of Brandy
  • Cognac. The most famous brandy in the world. ...
  • Armagnac. France's other great brandy. ...
  • Calvados. Calvados is made from apples and pears, not grapes, grown in the Calvados region in Normandy in the north east corner of France.
  • Brandy de Jerez. ...
  • Metaxa. ...
  • Pisco. ...
  • Grappa.

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