Mixology 101: The Brandy Old Fashioned

by Andrew Connor, Contributing Writer


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It is an oft-stated fact that Wisconsin consumes 75 percent of the world’s brandy supply. This is false, but, like most falsehoods, there is an element of truth. In reality, Wisconsin consumes about one-third of all Korbel Brandy produced and we consume the second most per capita, beaten only by the District of Columbia. Considering the recent government shutdown, I’m not entirely surprised.

All jokes aside, we are a state that loves its Brandy as much as it loves tradition, and among our traditions of Friday night fish fries, cheeseheads, and bratwursts, we love our Old Fashioneds. An Old Fashioned, for the uninitiated, is, in its simplest form, a cocktail created by combining sugar, bitters, alcohol and citrus rind. You might recall that Don Draper’s favorite drink is the Old Fashioned. However, while Don and most of the country would prefer to use whisky or bourbon, if you ask for an Old Fashioned in the Badger State it will most likely be made with brandy.

The Brandy Old Fashioned is the quintessential Wisconsin cocktail. Its roots span the last two hundred years or so, with the introduction of Korbel to Wisconsin. They’re great in the summer, the holidays, before or after a Packer or Badger game; there really isn’t an occasion where the Brandy Old Fashioned is out of its element. Consider drinking one a right of passage, then, because even if you haven’t had one before, I’m sure your parents or grandparents have. If you are like me and are Wisconsin born and raised, the Brandy Old Fashioned will become more than a drink to you; it will become nostalgia in a glass.

Making an Old Fashioned is not inherently difficult, however it does require quite a few ingredients. Mixing it takes some getting used to, but after making it a dozen times or so, it becomes instinctive.

Here is what you will need:

  • Korbel Brandy
  • 7-Up or Squirt
  • Club Soda
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Orange
  • Maraschino Cherries

In an empty Old Fashioned (6-10oz) or highball (8-12oz) glass, combine a teaspoon of sugar, an orange slice, a Maraschino cherry, and about three to five splashes of Angostura bitters. Add a splash of club soda and muddle together using a pestle-like tool called a muddler. Next, fill the glass to the top with ice cubes. Pour about 2oz of brandy over the ice.

After that, fill the rest of the glass with 7-up for a sweet Old Fashioned or squirt for a sour one. You can also use a press if you do not want your Old Fashioned to be too sweet; a press is a fifty-fifty combination of club soda and 7-Up. Finally, garnish your Old Fashioned with an orange slice and a Maraschino cherry.

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