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The Wisconsin Old Fashioned — or brandy old fashioned if you don’t want to get all regional about it — is a stone-cold classic. The drink is a hyper-regional riff on the classic old fashioned, which dates back to the 1800s. This is more of an American suburbs take from the 1940s with a very Midwest vibe.
There are a few key differences at play with this cocktail vs. the typical iteration. One is obvious — the use of brandy instead of American whiskey. The next is the muddled fruit at the bottom of the drink. This is a descendant of the “Old Fashioned No. 2,” which also muddles its fruit but is rarely seen in today’s uber-hip cocktail scene. Lastly, this cocktail is treated a little bit like a highball — topped with fizzy soda. In most cases, that’s usually 7-Up, but I’ve seen it made with Squirt, club soda, and even, gasp, Sprite (I kid, I kid … but only barely, people get rigid about using 7-Up here).
Alas, this does sound a bit like Frankenstein’s Monster version of a simple old fashioned. Still, there is something nice under all of the tweaks that’s worth giving a shot, especially as the summer pushes into its hottest days. So, let’s get stirring!
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Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned
- 2 oz. Korbel Brandy
- 2 oz. 7-Up
- 2 cocktail cherries
- 2 orange slices
- 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 cocktail cherry
- 1/2 orange wheel
What You’ll Need:
- Rock glass
- Cocktail spear
- Paring knife
- Add the two cherries, two orange slices, sugar, and bitters to a rocks glass. Muddle the fruit into the sugar until the cherries and orange start to fall apart into bits.
- Fill the glass with ice and pour the brandy over the ice. Top with 7-Up and stir vigorously until everything is combined (for about five seconds).
- Spear an orange wheel with a cherry for garnish and serve.
This felt like a time machine to a bygone era. It’s sweet and fizzy at first, making it feel more like a highball than a cocktail. Then, the muddled fruit kicks in and creates an almost fruit punch or sangria vibe, with plenty of spices and botanicals and a hint of vanilla from the brandy. It’s actually a little too sippable and refreshing.
Thanks to that fruit punch feel once you dig into this cocktail, it becomes a great summer refresher. Suddenly, the oldness of the format of this drink disappears and the freshness of the bright and dark fruits with a good measure of spice feel almost tropical.
That said, this is on the sweeter side and might not be everyone’s jam. Still, if you’re looking for something to cool you off as the heat spikes, this is a good choice.