The Taster here again.
If it hasn’t been evident in my past posts, you should know that I’m VERY proud of my Wisconsin roots and heritage. I won’t get into sports rivalries and border battles because there is a time and place for that. It’s Friday and Happy Hour is right around the corner so what I wanted to write about today (on the advice of my sister) was something that holds a place in my – nay, most every Wisconsinite’s – heart…the Brandy Old Fashioned.
There are countless rumors and stories of how much brandy Wisconsinite’s consume compared to other states and regions, so I’m not going to get into it too much. Let me just point out a couple of quick stats to give you an idea why I titled this post as I did. Korbel has said that it ships out 385,000 cases of brandy per year and that 139,000 go straight to Wisconsin – I did the math, that’s 36%. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, Wisconsin drank 49% of the brandy sold in the US in 1965. Now, that being said…I’ve lived ‘outside of my wheelhouse’ for a couple of years in Minnesota, all the while taking abuse from so-called friends and outsiders alike as they hurl drunk/drinking jokes and insults my way because I’m from Wisconsin and Wisconsinites are known across the country – and perhaps the world – for cheese, Packers, and drinking (it doesn’t help that I’m a red-head of Irish descent). FYI: there IS more to Wisco than that. Keep in mind Minnesotan friends that some stats out there say that Minnesota outdrinks Wisconsin per capita – you messy drunks…first, you steal our quarterback, then – I said I wasn’t going to go there… In the booze industry they refer to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Northern Michigan as the Brandy Belt so the Wisco nation isn’t alone.
But…on to the main point here – how to make a WISCONSIN OLD FASHIONED. There’s a difference. It isn’t easy to find a good old fashioned (as I know it) outside of Wisconsin when you go for a good cocktail. This was classically demonstrated when my parents came to visit one weekend and we were out for dinner. Jimmy, my dad, asked our waitress if the bartender knew how to make an old fashioned…our waitress took my father’s order while telling him, “oh yes, the boys behind the bar are from Wisconsin – I’m sure they know what they’re doing.” They didn’t. Apparently, they’ve spent too much time in The Cities and it has warped their cocktail skills (tongue-in-cheek people). Needless to say, Jimmy turned his nose up at the drink and then went on his normal diatribe of how no one knows how to make a good drink anymore…”TOO MUCH BOOZE!” “…THIS ISN’T AN OLD FASHIONED!”
The Old Fashioned cocktail can be made with whiskey, and I’ve even seen it attempted with gin and tequila as well – I wouldn’t suggest it, but Sconnies like to make it with brandy. Our brandy of choice? KORBEL. You will also see this quintessential Wisconsin drink made with club soda or water, but in Wisconsin it is mixed with 7up, Squirt, or a sour mix.
- Orange slices
- Maraschino cherries
- Aromatic bitters
- 7up/Sprite – or Squirt for a more sour taste…this has been my go-to lately
- Brandy (Korbel, of course)
First, you start with a tub or lowball glass – usually 10-12 fl. ounces. Drop an orange slice, cherry, and 3-5 squirts of bitters into the glass. Blogger’s note: I like to put a little cherry juice/grenadine and just a splash of soda in as well.
Next, you muddle all ingredients in the glass. This is when you should begin to see some froth develop.
Once thoroughly muddled, fill the glass with ice, then a couple of ounces of Korbel brandy.
Finally, top it off with your soda preference, stir, and garnish with another cherry and orange.
For more visual stimuli, check out the video of a bartender at one of my favorite restaurants, The Old Fashioned, make one. The Old Fashioned is a bar/restaurant in Madison, WI that serves classic Wisconsin fare, and…yes, they specialize in old fashioneds.