The brandy old-fashioned is a simple variation on the classic bourbon cocktail. As the name suggests, it prefers brandy over whiskey. If you order an old-fashioned in Wisconsin, it is likely that this is what your bartender will serve you. It's so popular, in fact, that it's thought of as the state's unofficial cocktail.
Like the old-fashioned, this is a very simple cocktail. It flavors the brandy with a bitters-soaked sugar cube that is muddled with orange and cherry. It is typically topped with a splash of Sprite or 7-Up.
The brandy old-fashioned is a rather refreshing drink and rivals the whiskey version. You'll definitely want to try it out because it's one of the best brandy cocktails you'll mix up.
Place the sugar cube at the bottom of an old-fashioned glass.
Saturate the cube with a splash of soda and bitters, add orange slices and cherries.
Muddle these ingredients.
Add the brandy and stir well.
Add a single, large piece of ice, such as an ice ball, and top with lemon-lime soda.
A Wisconsin Favorite
There are many variations on the classic old-fashioned. Some are more popular than others and some, like the brandy old-fashioned, have become entrenched in the drinking habits of certain regions.
Wisconsin's affinity for this drink is one of wonder. Just how did this state come to enjoy a version of the classic cocktail that is rarely found elsewhere in the U.S.? It's a question that many people have asked and one that Dy Godsey wrote about for Edible Milwaukee.
The answers may lie in the primarily German settlers who made Wisconsin home. With a preference for brandy over whiskey, it seems that the brandy old-fashioned was a natural fit. It is also likely due to Korbel Brandy's introduction to Wisconsinites during the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.
It's a reasonable story and, no matter if it's true or not, one cannot argue with the popularity of this cocktail in the Badger State.
Drink Like You're in Wisconsin
How do you drink a brandy old-fashioned like a true Wisconsinite? Korbel brandy is almost always poured in the state, so that's a good start. Some people prefer plain seltzer, though the lemon-lime sodas are a favorite.
Also, because bartenders mix up so many of these, many create a mix called "bug juice" to save time. Essentially, they're creating a ready-to-pour mixture of sugar, water, and bitters and forego the muddle completely.
While that's a good adaptation in a busy bar, home bartenders will find that making the brandy old-fashioned according to the recipe above is the way to go. It doesn't take much time at all and in a few minutes, you'll have a great drink. Though everyone in Wisconsin may put their personal spin on the drink, this recipe is accepted as authentic.
Godsey D. Old Fashioned, Wisconsin's (Un)Official State Cocktail. Edible Milwaukee. 2014.