Wisconsin stands out for its distinctive cuisines, such as fish fry Fridays, supper clubs, and bratwurst, but one of its more striking dishes may be Wisconsin’s unique twist on an old-fashioned cocktail.
Wisconsin brandy whiskey differs from its counterpart in that it often comes with unique garnishes like cherries or even pickled mushrooms for an exciting drink experience.
What’s an Old Fashioned?
The Old Fashioned is perhaps the quintessential cocktail. First popularized in 1806 when the printed reference was first made to it, its unique combination of whiskey (bourbon or rye), sugar, water, bitters, and garnishing it with orange slices makes for an exquisite sip! Today it consists of whiskey (bourbon or rye), sugar water, and bitters poured into a rocks glass over one large ice cube served up with an orange twist for garnish.
It was likely developed between 1880 and 1900 at Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, or Hudson, New York. According to legend, it may have been named in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper – a leading distiller. Later it became a mainstay at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bars before its popularity increased even more during early 20th century times.
This drink remains a favorite among whiskey connoisseurs and cocktail enthusiasts. It can be created using any variety of whiskey. Adding different fruits or ingredients quickly transforms it into something unique.
Old-fashioneds traditionally included bourbon as the whiskey choice, though any brand you choose will do. As for bitters, traditionally, Angostura and Peychaud’s are used together; however, you are free to experiment. When creating an old-fashioned, high-quality whiskey must be used since this drink requires tiny dilution – using low-quality ones will result in weak and unpleasant beverages.
For an added twist, try mixing egg-white liqueur or some other egg-white-based spirit to the mix for an unforgettable texture. Additionally, some people enjoy mixing their old-fashioned with club soda or lemon-lime soda for a light version of the drink.
An enjoyable and simple drink to prepare, almost anyone can enjoy this margarita. It provides a relaxing way to unwind after an exhausting day or week – just be sure to do it responsibly and don’t overdo it.
The Brandy Old Fashioned
Wisconsinites love The Brandy Old Fashioned as their unofficial state drink – it’s a quirky take on a whiskey cocktail and, according to them, can’t stand any other name for it than that of an Old Fashioned. Enjoy one sweet or sour, with either seltzer or press, garnished with pickled Brussels sprouts or bourbon cherries!
Wisconsin has long had an affinity for brandy over whiskey, which may explain its use as an Old Fashioned spirit in Wisconsin. Or one could point to Korbel brandy first being introduced at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where brandy first gained acceptance among Wisconsinites; after its debut, brandy quickly became ubiquitous throughout Wisconsin and eventually became its signature spirit today.
To create a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned, combine a sugar cube with two or three dashes of bitters in a rocks glass and muddle until the sugar has completely dissipated, then add ice, brandy, and additional sweet or sour mixes such as Sprite or 7-Up for an ideal finish; or try seltzer water instead if acidic drinks are your preference.
When ordering a Brandy Old Fashioned in Wisconsin bars, ensure your server knows exactly how you would like yours prepared. At Milwaukee’s Tin Widow, for instance, ordering only “Brandy Old Fashioned” will result in an uncertain response from the bartender, who may then inquire whether you prefer sweet, sour, or press.
Many bars offer their version of a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned, often made with local distillery’s house brandy mixed with bitters and fruit from a selection of distilleries in Wisconsin. Other bars may use premade mixes like 3rd Gear’s made with Door County cherries, aromatic bitters, genuine orange extract, and gentian root; you may even come across versions with added ingredients like grenadine!
Various recipes are online for crafting Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned drinks at home. Still, to ensure success in making one properly at home, you will require certain essential items. A cocktail shaker and large rocks glass or old-fashioned glass are needed, along with a jigger for measuring our spirits accurately – don’t forget Korbel brandy for adding its delicious taste!
The Original Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is considered to be the birth of cocktail culture. Composed of spirits, sugar, and bitters, its recipe made its first public debut in 1806. Published alongside that first use of “cocktail” in an upstate New York newspaper called The Balance and Columbian Repository, its popularity remained relatively constant over time with only slight tweaks to sugar or bitters amounts between recipes, but once fruity tiki drinks emerged during the 1960s and flashier party cocktails began appearing during the 80’s it eventually fell out of fashion.
After the cocktail renaissance of the 1990s, skilled bartenders began reinvigorating it again, reframing it as something other than just whiskey and sugary drink. Instead, bartenders started crafting elegant yet sophisticated sipper versions featuring high-quality bourbons with carefully balanced bitters as a focus point. Muddled fruits may once have been present; now, versions tend to emphasize these complex ingredients rather than fruit muddling.
Every detail must be carefully considered when creating the ideal Old Fashioned cocktail. Everything must come together seamlessly, starting with selecting a high-quality bourbon with bold yet balanced flavor, setting an appropriately sized glass, and managing dilution via large ice cubes in cocktail bars!
Don’t overlook the garnish. Selecting a suitable garnish can set your drink apart from its less luxurious peers, highlighting each ingredient’s qualities. Choose one that complements the flavor profile of your whiskey, and experiment with different garnishes until you find one you enjoy!
An agave or fig garnish can add a delicious sweetness to a drink dominated by bitters while pairing your bourbon with chocolate or walnut bitters for an unexpected twist on this classic cocktail. Always include Angostura bitters – its presence marks any real Old Fashioned as distinct!
The Wisconsin Old Fashioned
Wisconsinans know to expect something special when ordering an Old Fashioned: rather than anticipating what other states refer to as a whiskey cocktail with sugar and bitters, you will instead receive something made with brandy that comes served one of three ways – sweet, sour, or press – plus funky garnishes like pickled Brussels sprouts or an orange slice skewered onto a wooden stick! This unique twist on an age-old beverage has earned Wisconsin its special State Drink status and is widely loved.
The Wisconsin Old Fashioned has its origins at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where Captain Pabst displayed his beer, Aunt Jemima promoted her pancake mix, and German Wisconsinites experienced something familiar through Korbel Brothers brandy from California – buying vast amounts that have since made Wisconsin its largest customer of Korbel products.
Wisconsinites quickly adopted the Old Fashioned as their signature drink after Prohibition ended and bathtub booze faded from existence. Brandy became their drink of choice, while fruit and soda added flair. It soon became their drink of choice!
Wisconsin Old Fashioneds can be found at most bars throughout Wisconsin. A mainstay at many supper clubs that remain essential parts of Wisconsin culture, this drink remains faithful to its roots while each club might prepare it differently.
Create the classic Old Fashioned by adding an orange slice, muddled cherries and orange, a sugar cube, and light muddling. Next, add either lemon-lime soda for a sweet Old Fashioned or sour mix for a wrong Old Fashioned version – top this off with ice and your desired brandy before stirring; garnish if desired with orange peels or maraschino cherries on a skewer and enjoy!