The Old Fashioned Wars: News From the Front

I’ve spent a fair amount of time as an observer of the endless combat that pits proponents of the classic Old Fashioned against adherents of Wisconsin’s brandy version. Now mixology professional Jeffrey Morgenthaler, with the wisdom of Solomon, splits the baby. Praising the classic Old Fashioned’s blend of bourbon, sugar, and bitters, Morgenthaler diplomatically nods in the direction of the Dairy State:

But don’t try to pull that bullshit with the good people of the Great State of Wisconsin, where the Brandy Old Fashioned rules supreme. It’s not the same drink as above, it just shares a name.

I think I can accept this. Yes, I can. He goes on to propose, essentially, a compromise between the warring clans with a classed-up Sconnie OF.

So in the name of making cocktails – all cocktails – with as much of our hearts as we can offer, I present to you what I believe to be the perfect Brandy Old Fashioned… Wisconsin-style.

Check out Morgenthaler’s full description for a rundown of the process, but the recipe is thus:

1 sugar cube or 1 tsp 2:1 simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 orange wedge

1 cherry, preferably Amarena or Maraska

2 oz brandy or Cognac

In a chilled old fashioned glass, muddle the sugar, bitters, orange wedge and cherry into a thick paste, careful not to work the orange peel. Add brandy or Cognac, stir, and fill glass with crushed ice and serve.

And there it is — perched percariously between between the purists and the sweet-toothed Wisconsinites. This seems an eminently reasonable approach to the thorny issue of Old Fashioned vs. Old Fashioned. The term contains multitudes, and surely there is room in this world for all.