Normally, right about now, I’d be celebrating Christmas with my extended family. Not just my siblings and their kids but my cousins and their families too.
It’s an event that we transitioned years ago, from Christmas Eve to mid-December, out of sheer practicality. This allowed a joyful annual reunion—even with busy schedules, spouses, kids, and grandkids in the mix.
Alas not this year.
But Covid won’t stop me from enjoying this Wisconsin Old-Fashioned Cocktail (always served at the event). Holiday style this time!
What is a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned?
The Old-Fashioned cocktail has been around for ages–and rumor has it that it was first consumed in Kentucky in the 1800s. There it was made with bourbon and bitters and orange peel twisted for a hint of oil. The Washington Post has a recipe for the traditional version.
The popular drink was a staple in the Supper Club era but Wisconsin pulled together its own take on the classic. Frequently served with brandy (termed the “Brandy Old-Fashioned”), it was topped with lemon-lime soda (“sweet”), grapefruit soda (like Squirt) or sour mix (“sour”) or selzer. Yes, Wisconsinites are serious brandy drinkers (story here) and always happy to find their own way to do booze!
Which is how I decided to festive up the drink to create a holiday Wisconsin Old-Fashioned recipe. I started by using pomegranate syrup instead of bottled cherries and a garnish of easy sugared cranberries. If you don’t want to invest in a new condiment (I had the syrup and I can’t even tell you why), just use an ounce or two of standard pomegranate juice, a little more sugar and a bit less ice.
How to make a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned Cocktail
This holiday Wisconsin Old-Fashioned recipe is very easy to make. You place an orange slice, the pomegranate syrup, sugar and a few dashes of bitters in an old-fashioned glass and muddle (crush together) with a muddler or anything you have that will work (I used a small wooden spoon).
Serving a Wisconsin Old-Fashioned Cocktail
And I hear that cheese balls are making a comeback, so maybe pull up a cracker and a sharp spreadable cheddar, then drink to a better 2021.
- 1 orange slice
- 1 Tablespoon pomegranate syrup or molasses (see note)
- 1 sugar cube or a teaspoon of table sugar
- 3 – 6 dashes (usually Angostura) bitters
- 2 ounces brandy
- 2 handfuls of ice
- 4 ounces "soda" (lemon-lime, grapefruit, selzer)
- Optional orange slices, sugared cranberries for garnish (cocktail cherries or olives for the non-holiday version)
In an old-fashioned glass, muddle orange slice, pomegranate molasses/syrup, sugar cube and bitters.
Add brandy and a couple small handfuls of ice.
Top with soda of choice.
Garnish with sugared cranberries
Non-holiday version, you can use a cocktail cherry and a teaspoon of the juice instead of the pomegranate syrup and garnish with cocktail cherries or olives
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Saturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mg
Nutrition data accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
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