The options are endless when you make a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned—brandy or whiskey, sweet or sour—it’s all part of the fun!
You know how, when you order regular drinks, the bartender makes it and then gives it to you? Well, the procedure is a bit different when ordering a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned. First, you might want to get to Wisconsin before ordering one. Second, you have a questionnaire to address. That’s because a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned can be made a number of different ways.
“Would you like whiskey or brandy? Are you in the mood for a sweet cocktail or a sour cocktail? What’s your choice of garnish? We’ve got ’em all!”
As the name suggests, the Wisconsin Old-Fashioned is a take on the classic Old Fashioned, itself a take on the Whiskey Cocktail. German immigrants, having settled in Wisconsin, brought with them their love of brandy, and started replacing the whiskey with the import in their Old Fashioneds. The ubiquity of fruit during Prohibition led to their appearance in the Wisconsin Old-Fashioned (and other cocktails, as fruit helped mask the taste of the low-grade alcohol tipplers had in stock) and, before long, the drink had an identity.
What Are the Different Types of Brandy?
What distinguishes one brandy from the next is the fruit it’s made from and where it’s produced. The most popular is grape brandy. Cognac and Armagnac are two such types, produced in the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France, respectively. Calvados, also from France but in the north (Normandy), is made from apples. Pisco hails from Peru and Chile, and can be further differentiated by its age. The Italians believe in “waste not, want not,” and so use the leftover skins, seeds, and stems from wine making to produce grappa. Even we Americans are getting in on the brandy action, making the spirit from a variety of fruits.
- 2 oz. brandy
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 sugar cube
- splash 7-Up or Squirt (to taste)
- orange slice (for garnish)
- maraschino cherry (for garnish)
- Place the sugar cube in a sturdy rocks glass. Sprinkle the cube with the two dashes of Angostura bitters. Muddle the sugar and bitters together until they form a paste.
- Pour the 2 ounces of brandy into the glass. Stir the mix well to dissolve the remaining sugar.
- Fill the glass with ice cubes then top it up with your choice of 7-Up or Squirt depending on your sweetness preference. Stir gently. Finally, garnish it with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry on top.
Tips & Tricks to Making a Perfect Wisconsin Old-Fashioned
- Choose a quality brandy—it is, after all, the main ingredient. How good the brandy is will heavily influence how good your Wisconsin Old-Fashioned is overall.
- Experiment with different types of brandy. As noted above, brandies comes in a variety of flavors; try different fruit and see which you prefer.
- You can use 7-Up, Squirt (grapefruit soda), a press (mix of lemon-lime soda and club soda), or just club soda. It really depends on whether you want a sweet, sour, or mild cocktail.
- Stir, don’t shake your Wisconsin Old-Fashioned.
- Experiment with the type of bitters you use: orange, cherry, or Peychaud’s (a mix of anise and cherry) should be available and would work well in a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned.
Wisconsin Old Fashioned Variations
Wisconsin Old-Fashioned Mocktail: Replace the brandy with orange- or cherry-flavored soda.
Classic Old-Fashioned: The original, made with bourbon or rye and without the soda.
Sweet Wisconsin Old-Fashioned: Made with 7-Up.
Press Wisconsin Old-Fashioned: Made with 50/50 7-Up (or another lemon-lime soda) and soda water.
Sour Wisconsin Old-Fashioned: Made with Squirt or sour mix.