An iconic Wisconsin cocktail: the Old Fashioned


Call us old fashioned | Photo by @cateredcocktails608

Table of Contents

The Old Fashioned, Wisconsin in a Glass, Brandy Old Fashioned... whatever you call it, this iconic Wisconsin drink is known for its twist on what some might call a “classic Old Fashioned.” (not us though).

But do you know why the Wisconsin version is made with brandy instead of whiskey? Its roots trace back to prohibition + a large population of German immigrants in the Badger State.


The official state drink | Photo by @wollersheimdistillery

Each ingredient has a purpose + history behind its inclusion in the drink, so call us old fashioned as we jump back in time and explore the origins of the cocktail.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned Recipe

2 ounces brandy

  • During the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Korbel brothers debuted their domestic brandy. Due to its affordability + roots in German and Polish heritage, the spirit gained popularity in Wisconsin.

1 dash 7UP, Sprite or club soda + 1 sugar cube

  • Fast forward to the 1920s and the start of Prohibition. Bootlegged and black market alcohol was hardly palatable, so creative ways to make cocktails sweeter involved pop, fruit, sugar, and syrups.

2 brandied cherries + 2 orange slices

  • Another sweet way to mask the shoddy alcohol of the drink.

3 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Added to give a greater depth of flavor. A little bit of tartness with the sweet fruits + pop gives the drink a more complex taste.

After Prohibition ended, Wisconsinites saw no need to change their well-established drink and thus, the Brandy Old Fashioned has continued as the unofficial state drink for over a century.

Want to taste Wisconsin in a glass? Order an Old Fashioned (no need to preference Brandy) at some of our favorite bars + restaurants:

  • The Old Fashioned | 23 Pinckney St.
  • Cask & Ale | 212 State St.
  • The Harvey House | 644 W. Washington Ave.
  • Settle Down Tavern | 117 S. Pinckney St.
  • State Line Distillery | 1413 Northern Ct.
  • Merchant | 121 S. Pinckney St.
  • Mink Mark | 1929 Winnebago St.
  • The Free House Pub | 1902 Parmenter St., Middleton
  • Tornado Room Steakhouse | 116 S. Hamilton St.
  • Imaginary Factory | 1401 Northern Ct.
  • The Robin Room | 821 E. Johnson St.

Any places we missed? Let us know so we can try it for ourselves.


More from 608today