MxMo CVIII: Wisconsin Old Fashioned

I promise. At some point, I’ll post something here that isn’t MxMo related. Just not now.

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For this month’s Mixology Monday prompt, we turn to Fred from his CocktailVirgin blog. Briefly, Fred states:

mxmologo“For this theme, find a classic or modern Swizzle recipe, whether hot or cold. If the creative mood hits you, take the style in your own direction whether in a Tiki avenue, by reformulating a classic cocktail, or via something more Caribbean in feel. Don’t have a traditional Swizzle stick? Do not fret — I have found that a bar spoon works great in a pinch to do all of the mixing and chilling. Want to bring the Green Swizzle back to life or perhaps turn the Between the Sheets into a Barbados crushed ice delight? Awesome!”

One of the things I love about participating in Mixology Monday is it forces me to expand my cocktail horizons. I’ve never had a swizzled beverage before, much less made one. As a citizen of Wisconsin, the swizzling process immediately reminded me of our unofficial state cocktail: the Brandy Old Fashioned.

In Wisconsin, a brandy old fashioned is an eccentric cousin to the old standby of bitters, sugar, and spirit that we know and love. Jeffrey Morgenthaler describes the difference in detail here. In short, while it may seem blasphemous to some, the sweet fruit salad concoction made popular in supper clubs across the Badger State is a refreshing and fun regionalism that’s worth a try.

Since the Wisconsin brandy old fashioned calls for copious amounts of crushed ice, it’s a perfect cocktail for swizzling. I prefer mine without the traditional topper of sweet, sour, or club soda, and swizzling helps lengthen the drink without too much unnecessary dilution. W/r/t the cherries, try to stay away from the common neon-red maraschino cherries you’d top a sundae with. While they may be tradition at many establishments, I find their artificial flavor unpleasant, especially when muddled.

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Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned

  • 2oz Brandy*
  • 2 orange peels
  • 2 brandied or maraschino cherries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 barspoon cherry syrup (preferrably from your brandied cherries)
  • Crushed ice
  • Angostura bitters

Add your orange peels, cherries, sugar, and cherry syrup to your glass. Muddle furiously. You want to avoid muddling any pith from the orange peels into the drink, but you really want a sweet paste. Add your brandy, then fill the glass with crushed ice. I don’t own a traditional swizzle stick, but I had no issue swizzling with my trusty bar spoon. Spin the stick/spoon between your hands, moving up and down to mix and chill the drink. Once the outside of your glass has frosted, top with more crushed ice and a dash or two of Angostura bitters. Add a straw, and serve.

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This drink is sweet and refreshing. The extra sugar from the second cherry and the cherry syrup helps the drink hold up to the large amount of dilution swizzling provides. The orange and the cherry play up the fruity notes in the brandy as well. But this isn’t necessarily meant to be a nuanced beverage. Drink this frequently, preferably paired with beer-battered walleye and coleslaw. You’ll thank me.

*: Usually this is made with Korbel, as Mr. Morgenthaler states. And while that’s sufficient, I really like Paul Masson. Make this with whatever brandy you like

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