In Wisconsin, the only way to make an Old Fashioned is with brandy, not whiskey. This break from tradition stems from the introduction of brandy by California’s Korbel company at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was such a hit among the local German-Americans that they started drinking it in place of whiskey. My Grandma Marge enjoyed her brandy Old Fashioned with those cloyingly sweet, fluorescent red maraschino cherries that I loved as a kid. If you’re going for Wisconsin authenticity, use ’em. Otherwise, follow my lead and mash in homemade brandied cherries.
Game plan: Top off this cocktail with plain soda, or finish it “sweet” with lemon-lime soda, “sour” with sour mix, or “press,” which is a combination of pop and soda water.
This recipe was featured as part of our DIY Home Bar recipe slideshow.
Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass and splash it with the bitters. Add a dash of soda water (just enough to dissolve the sugar), the orange slice, and 1 cherry. Gently muddle to crush the fruit but not pulverize it. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add the brandy. Top off with soda. Garnish with another cherry or two.