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?!

Two glasses of brandy old fashioned are garnish with orange and a cherry.

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!
The ingredients to make brandy old fashioneds are shown: agnostura bitters, 7UP, brandy, sugar cubes, orange, and maraschino cherries.

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!
A hand adds a maraschino cherry to a glass.

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.
Glasses of brandy alexander garnished with orange and cherries, with a can of 7UP in the background.
  • 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!
Club soda, 7UP, Squirt, and sugar cubes on a white background.

Cocktail Variations

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!
Two glasses of brandy old fashioned are garnish with orange and a cherry.

Serving Suggestions

Serve your brandy old fashioneds with other classic cocktails and some nibbles. Here are some suggestions for you:

More Classic Cocktail Recipes

Two glasses of brandy old fashioned are garnish with orange and a cherry.

Brandy Old Fashioned

Yield: 1 drink
prep time: 10 minutes
total time: 10 minutes
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. How will you make it?!
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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

For a Brandy Old Fashioned 'Sweet': Follow the recipe as written, topped with 7UP.
For a Brandy Old Fashioned 'Sour': Replace the 7UP with Squirt.
For a Brandy Old Fashioned 'Press': Replace half the 7UP with club soda.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 182kcal Carbohydrates: 17g Sodium: 8mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 16g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!