Brandy Old Fashioned
Wisconsin’s official state cocktail, the Brandy Old Fashioned, is a Midwestern twist on a classic drink. I show you how to serve this delicious brandy cocktail one of three ways: sweet, sour, and press. What’ll your order be?!
Classic Brandy Old Fashioned Cocktail
The Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned swaps in brandy (Korbel brand only, if you’re a true Wisconsinite) for the classic old fashioned‘s usual bourbon or whisky. Besides brandy, the drink includes maraschino cherries, fresh orange slices, bitters, and a sugar cube – and then it’s finished one of three ways: sweet, sour, or press. ‘Sweet’ is with 7UP, ‘sour’ is with Squirt, and ‘press’ is half 7UP, half club soda. I show you how to make each version!
Why You’ll Love This Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned
When Wisconsin recently declared the brandy old fashioned its official state cocktail, it got me wondering if Minnesota will eventually do the same with the beloved bootleg cocktail. I’m betting that it will happen, as WI and MN have many sports related border battles – why not also compete with a drink?! Wisconsin’s state cocktail is a fun and delicious one – here’s why I think you’ll love it:
- Special. I like Wisconsin’s fun little twists on the classic old fashioned. Just be aware that if you’re in the presence of Wisconsinites passionate about their state cocktail, the only acceptable brandy is Korbel!
- Easy to make. This is a very simple cocktail. From start to finish, you’ll be enjoying one in less than 10 minutes.
- Easy to adapt. Start with my instructions for how to make this sweet, sour, or press – and then adapt as you please. Me? I prefer a brandy old fashioned sweet, plus a splash of maraschino cherry juice!
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Wisconsin brandy old fashioned recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for the exact ingredient amounts.
- Angostura bitters – This bitter herbal mixture adds depth of flavor to the drink.
- Orange slices – To add a bright citrus note.
- Maraschino cherries – Adds a subtle sweet cherry flavor. You’ll muddle one cherry into the drink and add another as garnish.
- Sugar cube – This is the traditional sweetener for the drink; it also helps the orange and cherry release their juices. At The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant in Madison (WI), they use a raw sugar cube, which gives a slightly different, delicious flavor – they even sell an old fashioned kit! We stop in there whenever we’re in town. Besides their famous old fashioneds, they make the BEST cheese curds!! (You could also just use 1 teaspoon of raw or granulated sugar instead of a sugar cube.)
- Brandy – Like I said, use Korbel and you’ll be in good favor with Wisconsin. According to Milwaukee Magazine, Korbel sold 275,000 cases of brandy in the U.S. in 2019, and more than 150,000 of them were bought in Wisconsin! This brandy is smooth and velvety, with notes of butterscotch, apricot, spiced orange peel, and honey.
- Lemon-lime soda – Many will say you must use 7UP, but this isn’t quite as controversial as the brand of brandy. Ha!
How to Make a Brandy Old Fashioned
I’ve outlined in photos how to make the most popular version, the brandy old fashioned sweet. Find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Add fruit, sugar & bitters. Add a maraschino cherry, orange slice, and sugar cube to a glass, along with a few dashes of bitters.
- Muddle. Thoroughly muddle the mixture, to release the fruit juices and incorporate the sugar cube.
- Add brandy. Add ice to the glass, then pour the brandy over the ice.
- Top it off. Top off the drink with 7UP, then give it a quick, gentle stir to incorporate and chill.
- Garnish. Add an orange slice and maraschino cherry. This is the most common garnish, but take a look in the variations below at other “unique” garnishes some Wisconsinites likes to use!
While the most common version is a Wisconsin brandy old fashioned sweet, there are 2 other “acceptable” versions: sour and press. I share about each of these below, plus give you a few other variation ideas:
- WI brandy old fashioned SOUR. This version simply swaps out the 7UP for Squirt or another grapefruit flavored pop. It gives a little more of that sweet & sour flavor, like you’d find in a classic sour drink such as a whiskey sour or amaretto sour.
- WI brandy old fashioned PRESS. To make this variation, swap out half of the 7UP for club soda. A little less sweet, but still with carbonation.
- Use orange bitters. For more orange flavor, use orange bitters rather than angostura bitters. You could also squeeze in some extra orange juice.
- Add more cherry. I’m a huge fan of maraschino cherries (have you tried my cherry cordial brownies or my aunt’s homemade chocolate cherry cordials?!). So my favorite twist is to add a splash of cherry juice from the the jar.
- Swap in lemon. If you want to try a different citrus note you can switch out the orange slices for lemon slices. You may want to add a little more sugar if you do this and like your drinks on the sweeter side.
- Add champagne. For a more celebratory feel, skip the 7UP and top off your brandy Old Fashioned with Champagne or prosecco!
- Substitute the brandy: This would absolutely not be a Wisconsin state cocktail, but use bourbon if you prefer.
- Go crazy with garnishes. Some people in Wisconsin like to add truly unique garnishes to this drink. Like olives, pickled mushrooms and brussels sprouts, and hard-boiled eggs!
Serve your brandy old fashioneds with other classic cocktails and some nibbles. Here are some suggestions for you:
- Other drinks. Include other brandy-based sips like a brandy alexander or an eggnog cocktail with brandy. Or try a refreshing bourbon limoncello cocktail. There are many other cocktail options as well!
- Appetizers. You can’t go wrong with an appetizer spread during cocktail hour! Make my mom’s perfect shrimp dip, a bacon butter board, cheesy queso fundido, and fresh guacamole with chips.
- With dessert. Because a brandy old fashioned is on the sweet side, you could serve it with dessert or as dessert. How about chewy ginger molasses cookies, a slice of chocolate cake, or a candy plate to nibble on with bites like fantasy fudge, chocolate turtles, candied pecans, or buckeyes.
- Pickled vegetables. For a striking flavor contrast to the sweet brandy old fashioned, serve this drink with an assortment of pickled vegetables. Try my pickled carrots, asparagus, or beets. And my famous pickled red onions pair with so many things, from carnitas tacos to banh mi meatballs – perfect for your appetizer spread!
More Classic Cocktail Recipes
Brandy Old Fashioned
- 3 to 4 good dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 orange slices divided
- 2 maraschino cherries divided
- 1 sugar cube
- 2 ounces brandy – Korbel brand preferred
- 1 ounce chilled lemon-lime soda – 7UP brand preferred
- Add the bitters, one orange slice, one maraschino cherry, and sugar cube to a rocks glass. Muddle to combine the sugar and extract the fruit juices.
- Add ice to 2/3 full, then pour the brandy over the ice.
- Top with 7UP, then give a quick, gentle stir to combine and chill.
- Garnish with the remaining orange slice and maraschino cherry.