Brandy Old Fashioned

From Friday fish fries to supper clubs, the Wisconsin drink of choice is a Brandy Old Fashioned. Here’s the authentic recipe for the Wisconsin twist on this famous classic cocktail.

Three brandy old fashioneds in clear glasses.

In 1893, during the Chicago World’s Fair, Korbel brandy was introduced to the crowd. German immigrants (many from Wisconsin) loved the brand because it tasted more like what they were used to drinking in Europe.

It took off. By the 1920s and 30s, the drink of choice was this one right here, made without whiskey and served sweet, sour, or “press” style. Just like Beer Brats, Booyah, and Kringle, this cocktail is pure Badger State tradition.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled brandy old fashioned ingredients in bowls and bottles.

Ingredient notes:

  • Maraschino cherry juice: Or grenadine.
  • Sugar cubes: You can find sugar cubes in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Or, substitute 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar per sugar cube.
  • Bitters: Angostura is a popular brand and they last forever in the pantry. Orange bitters work really well in this drink, too.
  • Brandy: Good old Korbel Brothers is what you’re likely to get in Wisconsin, but you can go fancier, if you want to.
  • Grapefruit soda: Squirt is the most common national brand, but grab 50/50 (by Canfield’s) if you ever see it!

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. To make this cocktail, you need a muddler (or something else that can do the job), ice, and a “rocks” glass. Add one orange slice (peel and all), cherry juice, sugar cube, and 4-6 dashes of bitters to the bottom of the glass. Muddle these together until they’re nicely mashed up.
    Old fashioned ingredients being muddled in a clear glass.
  2. Next, fill the glass with ice cubes. Then measure out the brandy and pour over the ice.
    Brandy being poured into a clear glass with ice and red liquid in the bottom.
  3. Top with soda, then garnish with an extra orange slice and cherry.
    Soda being poured into a Brandy Old Fashioned cocktail.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Build the drink in the glass: The cocktail is best when crafted one at a time, in the glass you serve it.
  • No muddler: Use the handle of a wooden spoon or just stir it all together. Or use a little homemade simple syrup which is already dissolved.
  • Old Fashioned Sweet: Instead of the grapefruit soda, top off the drink with your favorite lemon-lime soda (Think 7UP or Sprite).
  • Old Fashioned Press: Pour half lemon-lime soda, and half soda water. This makes it less sweet, but still tingly and refreshing.
  • Whiskey: To enjoy a version closer to the one “folks from out of town” make, substitute your favorite bourbon or whiskey.
  • Classic Wisconsin garnishes: Besides the orange wheel and cherry, this drink can sometimes be garnished with some seriously funky stuff: pickled green beans, olives, pickled mushrooms, and even pickled Brussels sprouts.  Then you KNOW you’re in Wisconsin!

Three brandy old fashioneds in clear glasses.

Other classic cocktail recipes:

A brandy old fashioned in a clear glass.

Brandy Old Fashioned

From Friday fish fries to supper clubs, the Wisconsin drink of choice is a Brandy Old Fashioned. Here's the authentic recipe for the Wisconsin twist on this famous classic cocktail.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail
Calories: 156kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 2 orange slices divided, 1 reserved for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 4-6 dashes Angostura bitters (see note 2)
  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy (3 tablespoons)
  • Ice
  • grapefruit soda (Squirt, see note 3)
  • 1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Instructions

  • In the bottom of a rocks glass, muddle 1 orange slice, cherry juice, sugar cube and bitters.
  • Fill glass with ice. Pour brandy over ice. Top with soda and garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

Notes

  1. Maraschino cherry juice: Or grenadine.
  2. Sugar cubes: You can find sugar cubes in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Or, substitute 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar per sugar cube. 
  3. Bitters: Angostura is a popular brand and they last forever in the pantry. Orange bitters work really well in this drink, too. 
  4. Brandy: Good old Korbel Brothers is what you're likely to get in Wisconsin, but you can go fancier, if you want to.
  5. Grapefruit soda: Squirt is the most common national brand, but grab 50/50 (by Canfield's) if you ever see it!
  6. Build the drink in the glass: The cocktail is best when crafted one at a time, in the glass you serve it.
  7. No muddler: Use the handle of a wooden spoon or just stir it all together. Or use a little homemade simple syrup which is already dissolved.
  8. Old Fashioned Sweet: Instead of the grapefruit soda, top off the drink with your favorite lemon-lime soda (Think 7UP or Sprite).
  9. Old Fashioned Press: Pour half lemon-lime soda, and half soda water. This makes it less sweet, but still tingly and refreshing.
  10. Whiskey: To enjoy a version closer to the one "folks from out of town" make, substitute your favorite bourbon or whiskey.
  11. Classic Wisconsin garnishes: Besides the orange wheel and cherry, this drink can sometimes be garnished with some seriously funky stuff: pickled green beans, olives, pickled mushrooms, and even pickled Brussels sprouts.  Then you KNOW you're in Wisconsin!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktail | Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 59IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 10mg
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  1. William

    Reminds me of supper clubs in Wisconsin. I live in Michigan now, but I definitely miss those Old Fashions. This article takes me back and the recipe is just right.5 stars

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