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Wisconsin Old Fashioned

Savor the timeless charm of the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, a classic cocktail that combines bourbon or brandy with muddled oranges, cherries, and a dash of bitters. This beloved Midwest favorite offers a perfect balance of sweetness and warmth, creating a comforting and inviting drink for any occasion.

Homemade Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Cocktail with Cherry and Orange

This timeless drink is a variation on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, but it uses brandy instead of whiskey. It’s a popular drink in Wisconsin, where it’s often served at supper clubs and bars. Whether you’re in Wisconsin or not, this drink is a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of a bygone era. With its simple ingredients and easy preparation, it’s a great cocktail to make at home or order at your favorite bar.


The Wisconsin Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that has become an iconic drink in the state of Wisconsin. The history of the cocktail is believed to have originated in the late 1800s when bartenders in Wisconsin began using brandy instead of whiskey in their Old Fashioned cocktails. This tradition continues today, and the Wisconsin Old Fashioned is still made with brandy.

Homemade Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Cocktail with Cherry and Orange

During the Prohibition era, the Old Fashioned was a popular drink among those who wanted to enjoy a good cocktail while avoiding detection by the authorities. German immigrants had a strong influence on the cocktail culture in Wisconsin, and their love of brandy helped to make the Wisconsin Old Fashioned what it is today. It’s considered the state drink, even though the official drink of Wisconsin is milk.

Milwaukee and Madison are two cities in Wisconsin where the Old Fashioned has been particularly popular. Supper clubs, which are a staple of Wisconsin dining, are also known for their Old Fashioned cocktails. Nathan Green, a bartender at the former Belmont Hotel in Madison, is credited with popularizing the sweet version of the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, which is made with brandy, sugar, bitters, and soda water.

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How to Make It

Homemade Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Cocktail with Cherry and Orange

Wisconsin Old Fashioned

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

If you're looking to make a classic Wisconsin Old Fashioned Cocktail at home, you're in luck! This cocktail is easy to make and requires just a few ingredients.

Here's what you'll need:


  • 2 oz brandy
  • Orange slice and maraschino cherry, for garnish
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 2 cherries soaked in brandy
  • 2 orange slices
  • Additional cherries and orange slices to garnish


  1. Put the sugar cube along with the Angostura bitters, cherries soaked in brandy and orange slices into a lowball short glass
  2. Muddle those ingredients together
  3. Top the glass with ice
  4. Add the brandy and top off the drink with lemon and lime soda
  5. Stir to combine
  6. Garnish the glass with cherries and an orange slice

Did you make this recipe?

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Choosing Your Brandy

The best brandy for a Brandy Old Fashioned is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer a smooth and mellow brandy, while others prefer a more robust and flavorful brandy. Some popular brands of brandy for making Old Fashioned cocktails include Korbel, Christian Brothers, and E&J. Ultimately, the best brandy is the one that you enjoy the most.


While the classic Wisconsin Old Fashioned is made with brandy, sugar, bitters, and lemon-lime soda, there are many variations to try. Here are a few popular ones:

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Fruit Variations

Some bartenders add orange slices, olives, or pickled mushrooms to the drink for an extra burst of flavor and texture.

Sangria Variations

For a fruity twist on the classic, try a red or white sangria Old Fashioned. These variations use wine, fruit juices, and fresh fruit instead of soda.

Margarita Variation

Some bartenders mix tequila and lime juice with the classic Old Fashioned ingredients for a margarita-style drink.

German Variation

In Wisconsin’s heavily German-influenced communities, it’s common to see a German Old Fashioned made with a German-style herbal liqueur like Jägermeister.

Grapefruit Soda Variation

For a tangy twist, some bartenders use grapefruit soda instead of lemon-lime soda in the classic recipe.

Squirt Variation

Squirt, a grapefruit soda, is a popular alternative to lemon-lime soda in the classic recipe.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned
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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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