Wisconsin's Old Fashioned Is About To Make History

This variation on the classic cocktail might make Wisconsin a trailblazer.

When you sidle up to a bar in Wisconsin and order an old fashioned, you're handed a much different cocktail than you would receive just about anywhere else in the country. In a classic old fashioned, you can expect some combination of bourbon (or rye), sugar, water, bitters, some form of orange, and a cocktail cherry—but in Wisconsin, there's a key ingredient that gets swapped out for the bourbon. You're getting a brandy old fashioned up here.

Your bartender might also ask you how you want your old fashioned made, the options being "sweet," "press," and "sour." And depending on the supper club, you might even end up with a savory garnish, such as pickled vegetables, olives, or mushrooms.

All this might sound like a head trip to an alternate dimension, but sweet brandy old fashioneds are just how Wisconsinites love the drink. They're so adored, in fact, that the cocktail might even be codified by state legislators.

Wisconsin might become the first state with an official cocktail

The Hill reports that Wisconsin state lawmakers have officially proposed a resolution (see here) declaring the brandy old fashioned the official state cocktail. Should it pass, Wisconsin will be a mixology trailblazer, because no other state has an officially recognized state cocktail.


There's no official timeline on when this might be set in stone, but it's exciting nonetheless—if any state could get this done, it's Wisconsin. My wife is from the Badger State, and I can attest from visits to her hometown that the brandy old fashioned is the cocktail of choice for just about everyone. I still remember the first time I got handed one with a pickled Brussels sprout on top at a supper club; it felt like an initiation ceremony.

For the rest of the country, the brandy old fashioned can be polarizing. They're much sweeter than the standard build, and the brandy changes the cocktail significantly by giving it an overall fruity profile. But if you visit Wisconsin and you're looking to imbibe, it's a must-order, at least once. Be warned: If you ask for one made with bourbon, your bartender will likely ask if you're from out of town.