Authentic Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned Recipe

Published October 18, 2021
Ouija Board Dark BackgroundWisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 1 orange slice
  • 2 cherries
  • 2 ounces brandy
  • Splash lemon-lime soda or plain club soda
  • Ice
  • Orange wheel and cherry for garnish


  1. In a rocks glass, add sugar cube, bitters, orange slice, and cherries.
  2. Muddle ingredients to combine.
  3. Add ice and brandy.
  4. Top off with lemon-lime soda.
  5. Garnish with orange wheel and cherry.

Variations and Substitutions

It may seem impossible that this brandy old-fashioned could have any changes without destroying the structure, but it's not as delicate a cocktail as it appears.

  • Add a dash or two of smoked bitters for an earthier cocktail.
  • Consider a flavored brandy, such as applejack, for a new flavor.
  • Use additional fruit for a juicier, sweeter drink.
  • Try cherry club soda for added flavor.


An important aspect of all cocktails is the garnish. They contribute to a visual experience and add important senses to the drink: a scent and flavor that would otherwise be missing. Ultimately, garnishes add an extension to the cocktail experience.

  • Elevate the cocktail by using a Luxardo cherry in place of a maraschino one.
  • Mix in a traditional orange peel garnish.
  • Consider using a lemon twist to complement the lemon-lime soda.
  • Some bars use olives. Although unusual, the savory flavor works well.

About the Wisconsin Old-Fashioned

The old-fashioned has evolved over the years. First showing up in the 1800s as a drink containing spirit (typically bourbon or brandy), bitters, water, and sugar. Bartenders inevitably began to change the recipe as they saw fit, some adding other liqueurs, with exact measurements changing from bar to bar. The muddling of fruit ingredients wouldn't take hold until later, oftentimes with the sugar cube.

But the origin of the brandy old-fashioned is lost to history, including its intense popularity in Wisconsin. It all remains a mystery. Some theorize that the 1893 World's Fair brought a rise of brandy consumption to the Midwest. Wisconsinites brought back word of this unusual spirit, spurring on the birth of this cocktail. Others think the use of so much muddled fruit is a result of tempering harsh spirits during Prohibition.

Don't Badger the Reason

It could seem unusual, taking the well-crafted whiskey old-fashioned and using brandy instead. Don't be worried, this riff is just as tasty as the original. The notes of fruit and citrus zest from the brandy perfectly complement all ingredients, making for a memorable cocktail that might just sway you away from the bourbon once in a while. If you find you like this cocktail, there are other brandy drinks you'll want to try.

Authentic Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned Recipe