wisconsin old fashioned. — michelle mcglinn (2024)

A lot of people ask me for recommendations for eating and drinking in Chicago. I scrounge up what I can, but the truth is, I am really not the person to ask. I haven’t spent a lot of my adult life in Chicago. Sure, I come home a few times a year, but I usually frequent my favorite spots and restaurants close to my parents’.

I left Chicago when I was 18 and moved to Milwaukee when I turned 21. My first drinks were served up in Wisconsin, and my formative drinking years were spent in the Milwaukee bar scene. Sure, my foundation is pure Chicago, but I’m kind of a Wisconsin girl at heart. I even cheer for the Bucks (I just love Giannis).

So my very first old fashioned was made with cherries, oranges, brandy, and 7-up. I didn’t even know that that wasn’t a true old fashioned (or that it’s so hotly debated in the co*cktail world) for several years. I just thought old fashioneds were.. awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, at this point I’ve certainly had a normal old fashioned and I love them just as much — but I will never not love the cherry-packed highball that Wisconsin serves up in a rocks glass.

To start, a regular old fashioned is bourbon, a sugar cube, and a few dashes of bitters. You’d typically garnish it with an orange peel and a cherry if you like it a little more citrusy-sweet. It’s really great for those who can’t just drink bourbon neat, and also a good treat for when you don’t want bourbon neat. Because sometimes you don’t.

A Wisconsin old fashioned follows a very similar blueprint but adds a few more controversial elements. Instead of just using the cherry and orange as garnish, it’s muddled with the sugar cube and bitters. Brandy is poured over top instead of bourbon, and — most controversially — the drink is topped with soda.

If you want to look like a local ordering an old fashioned in wisconsin, order it like this: “Can I have a brandy old fashioned sweet?”

You’ll ask it like a question because you’re an uber-polite Wisconsinite, and you’ll indicate your soda preference right in the order by adding “sweet”. This means you’ll get your old fashioned with 7-up or Sprite.

Otherwise, you can elect to have an old fashioned sour or an old fashioned press. A “sour” will be made with Squirt or sour mix (or Jolly Good, if you can find it, but I hardly ever could) and a “press” will be either club soda or half club soda, half 7-up.

When I lived in Wisconsin I tried old fashioneds every which way. I thought the club soda was gross and the 7-up was perfect. The Jolly Good was a wildcard that I’d save for special occasions, just to switch it up.

If you do want a regular old fashioned, just say bourbon old fashioned. It’s unlikely a bartender would think you want soda in that, but if they’re not sure, they’ll just ask “sour or sweet?” and you can clarify from there.

cherries: Okay, I realized I might get roasted for this, but I use the dark, syrupy Luxardo cherries for my old fashioneds. Technically, they’re usually made with the bright red Maraschino. Don’t hate me for this, but I think those taste like chemicals. Plus, the dark cherries add an allure and chicness to a kind of quirky co*cktail. Do whatever you please. I truly don’t think it matters which cherry you use (just don’t use fresh cherries, that would be odd)

sugar cube: This is widely debated amongst co*cktail enthusiasts. I’m in the camp that the sugar cube is the proper way to add sweetness to an old fashioned, but many (including Evan) would argue that simple syrup is much smoother tasting. Either works, and it does not, for the record, taste grainy with a sugar cube. Use what you have.

oranges: You want one good slice of a naval orange to muddle and a wedge to garnish with after. You can also simply use the peel, like I did, to garnish.

bitters: For a true old fashioned, you’ll just want the classic Angostura bitters. Bitters are like the salt and pepper of a co*cktail, so don’t be tempted to leave them out. To switch up the flavor, try bitters like cardamom, almond, or habanero.

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. This may be another ingredient I get roasted for, but I don’t think it matters whether you use 7-up or Sprite. They taste the same to me…I’m sorry! You can also try Jolly Good if you see it, which will be a sour alternative that will get you big Wisconsin points with your friends up north.

wisconsin old fashioned. — michelle mcglinn (2024)


Wisconsin old fashioned. — michelle mcglinn? ›

a wisconsin old fashioned is not your typical old fashioned; it muddles sugar, bitters and orange with brandy and finishes with a crisp pour of soda for a sparkling version of a classic.

What is the difference between an old fashioned and an old fashioned in Wisconsin? ›

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.

What brandy is best for Wisconsin old fashioned? ›

I like Wisconsin's fun little twists on the classic old fashioned. Just be aware that if you're in the presence of Wisconsinites passionate about their state co*cktail, the only acceptable brandy is Korbel! Easy to make.

What is the official co*cktail of Wisconsin? ›

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

How to order 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.

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.

Which 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 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 whiskey do bars use for Old Fashioned? ›

Best Overall Bourbon for an Old Fashioned: Old Grand Dad 114

Orange zest, cinnamon, and burnt sugar are the signature tasting notes of Old Grand Dad 114 Proof . A few drops of water and muddled sugar help dial down the heat to form a co*cktail as accessible as it is memorable.

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.

What city in Wisconsin drinks the most? ›

The state has seven of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest alcohol consumption per capita ("for each person"). InsiderMonkey concludes Milwaukee.. "with its sprawling beer gardens.." is the drunkest city in America in 2023. Milwaukee topped lists for excessive drinking in 2022 and 2021, too.

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

a wisconsin old fashioned is not your typical old fashioned; it muddles sugar, bitters and orange with brandy and finishes with a crisp pour of soda for a sparkling version of a classic.

What kind of brandy is best 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 drink is close to an Old Fashioned? ›

Sazerac. The Sazerac is probably the closest drink to an Old Fashioned, that isn't an Old Fashioned. So if you like one, bets are you'll like the other. A traditional Old Fashioned uses bourbon, while a Sazerac uses rye whisky which makes it more peppery.

Why does Wisconsin drink Brandy Old Fashioned? ›

Starting as country road speakeasies during Prohibition, the dance halls turned restaurants are a staple of Wisconsin family life. “Everyone grew up going to supper clubs, and you always drink an Old Fashioned,” says Rob Peterson, marketing director of Door County Distillery.

Did the old fashion originate in Wisconsin? ›

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.

Is it an Old Fashioned or an Old Fashioned? ›

As a noun, an old-fashioned refers to an alcoholic beverage which contains whiskey, sugar, bitters and pieces of fruit. Occasionally one sees old fashioned without the hyphen, but dictionaries list old-fashioned with a hyphen. Old fashion is a corruption of the term old-fashioned.

Is an Old Fashioned a Midwest drink? ›

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.

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