A brandy old fashioned sweet is a classic Wisconsin Supper Club cocktail. Made with maraschino cherries, oranges, sugar, bitters, brandy, and lemon-lime soda, this vintage cocktail recipe is a must-try!
Is it too early to have a guest writer? Since my husband is “Mr. Wisconsin”, this drink is near and dear to his heart. He had a lot he wanted me to tell you about this classic cocktail recipe…so he guest-wrote the below introduction on making the PERFECT Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet.
Every stage of life has its own drink. When you’re in your early 20s, you might have gone with cheap beer, party mixers like Jack & Coke, and Trader Joe’s ‘Two Buck Chuck’ because, frankly, it was all you could afford! By your late 20s, you maybe earn a bit more money and some of your debts are paid off, so you’ve moved on to nice craft beer and *gasp* a $15 bottle of wine! By the time you reach your 30s (if you’re me, at least!), a nice cocktail is the only way to go. Perhaps spurred on by hits like ‘Mad Men’, classic cocktails have been in vogue for the past few years; in particular, the Old Fashioned is back in a big way.
The truth is, though, in Wisconsin, we never stopped drinking them. It’s not back in style because it never fell out of style here! That being said, if Don Draper walked into Wisconsin supper club and ordered an Old Fashioned, he’d be a bit surprised by what the barkeep would hand him.
The Wisconsin Old Fashioned has characteristics that set it apart from a classic Old Fashioned. First, the muddled fruit/sugar cube. Every Wisconsin Old Fashioned starts this way. Second, BRANDY. In Wisconsin, unless you say otherwise, it’s assumed you want your Old Fashioned made with brandy (instead of a spirit like whiskey). And third, soda. Every Wisconsin Old Fashioned cocktail recipe will have a healthy splash of soda (7Up if you want it sweet, or Squirt if you want it sour). Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry and you’re done!
All of these extras (muddled fruit, soda, garnish, etc.) are remnants of Prohibition. When making and selling alcohol was illegal, that certainly didn’t stop people from drinking. They would just make the stuff themselves or purchase it from a bootlegger. But the booze they may have made in their basements wasn’t up to the same quality assurance standards as the old distilleries; so, to cut the harsh taste of their homemade hooch, it became common practice to add things like sugar and fruit to mask the taste. Turns out, these additions are still enjoyed today, even with the good stuff!
TELL ME ABOUT: WISCONSIN BRANDY OLD FASHIONEDS
Time: From start-to-finish, it will take you approximately five minutes to mix up this Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned recipe.
Fruit: Muddled cherries and an orange slice are staples in every Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet. You can definitely go for a fancier cherry if you want (Luxardo brand cherries are my favorite), but a standard maraschino cherry will do just fine!
OVERVIEW: HOW TO MAKE A WISCONSIN BRANDY OLD FASHIONED SWEET
- Place the sugar, cherry, orange slice and bitters into your glass and muddle for about 10 seconds.
- Add ice and top with brandy and soda of your choosing. Stir to combine.
- Garnish with cherry and an orange slice.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR MAKING THE PERFECT WISCONSIN BRANDY OLD FASHIONED SWEET
What do I do if I don’t have a muddler? I’d encourage you to find a muddler at your local liquor store if you don’t already have one. This common bar too is not expensive, and you’ll release the most flavor from your fruit if they’re properly muddled. But, in a pinch, you can use the back of a sturdy spoon (one that won’t bend) to crush the cherry, orange, and sugar in step one of this classic cocktail recipe.
What is the best brandy to use for this cocktail recipe? Why, Korbel of course! And why Korbel? In 1893, just as the classic Old Fashioned was experiencing a resurgence in popularity, the World’s Fair in Chicago brought Korbel brandy to the midwest. Wisconsinites tried brandy in their Old Fashioned cocktail recipes then and never went back! To this day, according to the Korbel Company, Wisconsin alone drinks more than half of all the brandy they sell worldwide.
I don’t have brandy, what liquor should I use instead? While brandy is very common in Wisconsin, I know that isn’t the case everywhere. In fact, most restaurants and bars outside of Wisconsin will serve you an Old Fashioned made with whiskey! Your favorite whiskey or bourbon are great options for this cocktail recipe.
If I’d prefer a less-sweet cocktail, how can I modify this recipe? If you’re not into the sweetness that comes along with this version of the Brandy Old Fashioned, you can change it to a Brandy Old Fashioned Sour by swapping out the lemon-lime soda for Squirt or 50/50. Less common, but another option, is to make a Brandy Old Fashioned Press, which is done by using half 7Up and half soda water in lieu of only lemon-lime soda.
Cocktail Picks: for skewering the cherry and orange slice to garnish – we have and love this set of cocktail picks.
LOVE THIS RECIPE? YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:
Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet
- 1 tsp brown sugar*
- 2-3 orange slices
- 2-3 maraschino cherries
- 4-5 dashes Angostura bitters
- ice cubes
- 1, 1.5 oz jigger of Brandy I recommend Korbel
- lemon-lime soda to top I recommend 7-Up
- Place sugar, 1 orange slice, and 1 cherry in your glass. Shake in bitters, and muddle
- Add ice on top of muddled ingredients
- Add brandy and top with soda
- Stir to combine
- Garnish with a cherry and orange slice