Here’s how to make the Wisconsin Old Fashioned! This state’s variation on the classic cocktail is made with brandy and has some unique twists.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned

Here’s a drink that’s a quirky spin on a classic: the Wisconsin Old Fashioned! Leave it to Wisconsinites to make their own spin on the Old Fashioned: so popular that it became the State drink. Order it in a bar and it comes with lots of variations: Sweet, Sour, Press and Soda. When it comes to the garnishes…well, those are a little funky too (pickled Brussels sprouts?). Here we’ll break down exactly how to make this unique brandy Old Fashioned and how to order it in a bar so you feel like a true Wisconsinite!

What’s a Wisconsin Old Fashioned?

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned is the state’s variation on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, with brandy and lemon lime soda. The typical Old Fashioned recipe uses bourbon mixed with a muddled sugar cube and bitters. So where did the brandy Old Fashioned come from?

Here’s the theory! (Per Jerry Minnich, at least.) A company of brothers debuted their Korbel brandy at the World’s Fair in 1893 in Chicago, which lots of Wisconsinites attended. A large percentage of Wisconsin at the time was German, and Germans preferred brandy over bourbon. Korbel brandy become a hit, and birthed this state’s funky variation on the classic cocktail. To this day, the drink is often served with Korbel brandy! The ingredients in a Wisconsin Old Fashioned are:

  • Brandy
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Angostura bitters
  • Lemon lime soda, grapefruit soda or soda water (see below)
Brandy Old Fashioned

Ways to order a brandy Old Fashioned: Sweet, Sour, Press and Soda

Here’s the fun part about a Wisconsin Old Fashioned: there are 4 different ways to order it! These variations on the “topper” to top off the glass give it different flavors. Pick the one that fits your taste! When you order a brandy Old Fashioned in Wisconsin, you can use these terms to sound like you’re a local. Here’s the decoder key:

  • Sweet: Lemon lime soda (like 7 Up or Sprite). This is the default option at bars.
  • Sour: Sour mix or grapefruit soda (like Squirt).
  • Press: 50/50 lemon lime soda and soda water (club soda)
  • Soda: Soda water

These topping options take the Wisconsin Old Fashioned into a whole different category from the standard. Where a classic Old Fashioned is spirit-forward, the brandy version waters down the liquor and adds some nuanced flavors. It’s a unique variation that we almost prefer to the standard. And then there’s the garnishes…

Wisconsin Old Fashioned: sweet, sour, press

How to garnish a Wisconsin Old Fashioned

The garnishes for a Wisconsin Old Fashioned range from standard to downright intriguing! Here’s a little breakdown:

  • Orange slice
  • Cocktail cherry
  • Olives
  • Pickled mushrooms
  • Pickled Brussels sprouts

Yes, it’s a thing! Many Wisconsin bars stock pickled Brussels sprouts just for this drink. Here at A Couple Cooks we love regional food traditions, and this one takes the cake. (Let us know if you prefer your drink this way!)

Wisconsin Old Fashioned

When to serve a brandy Old Fashioned

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned with brandy is a unique spin on the classic! It’s a fun regional drink to pull out as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Girls or guys night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
Print
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Wisconsin Old Fashioned

Wisconsin Old Fashioned


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the Wisconsin Old Fashioned! This state’s variation on the classic cocktail is made with brandy and has some unique twists.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 sugar cube (1 teaspoon sugar)
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ½ teaspoon water
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) brandy
  • Topper: 1 splash of lemon lime soda (Sweet), sour mix or grapefruit soda (Sour), 50/50 lemon lime soda and soda water (Press), or soda water (Soda)
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: Orange peel or slice, cocktail cherry, pickled mushrooms, olives or pickled Brussels sprouts

Instructions

  1. Place the sugar cube in a lowball glass and add the bitters. Add the water and mash and swirl it with a muddler or wooden spoon until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  2. Add the brandy and swirl to combine. Add a large ice cube.
  3. Top off the glass with the desired topper (above). Garnish and serve.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Wisconsin Old Fashioned, Brandy Old Fashioned

More drinks with brandy

Love brandy or Cognac? Here are a few brandy cocktails to use up the bottle:

  • Classic Sidecar Cocktail Here’s how to make one of the best classic cocktails of all time: the Sidecar! This sour is the perfect balance of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon.
  • Red Sangria or White Sangria Fruity sangria is made with brandy! Here’s how to make it, the Spanish way.
  • Vieux Carre The Vieux Carre cocktail is a 1930’s classic from New Orleans! It’s strong and sippable, featuring rye whiskey, Cognac and vermouth.
  • Milk Punch This tasty brandy cocktail is made with milk and sugar! It’s cold and creamy, and works for brunch or evening.
  • Between the Sheets Cocktail A rum spin on the classic Sidecar! Starring Cognac and orange liqueur, it’s bright, citrusy, and sassy.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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