Today, I’m packing the last three years of my life into a U-Haul and saying goodbye to a city that’s become a part of me. I’ll have tissue in one hand and a Brandy Old Fashioned in the other.
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I’m not entirely sure how or when I became obsessed with Madison, only that it snuck up on me. Perhaps it had something to do with:
- Weekly trips to the largest producers-only farmers market in the country (conveniently located two minutes from our front door)
- Endless baskets of fried cheese curds (scroll to the bottom of this post for my favorite Madison bars, restaurants and sights)
- More Friday fish fries than I can count (especially if I include those made at home using this Fish and Chips recipe)
- Morning runs that look like this
- Picture-perfect sunsets off the lake
- Writing MANY blog posts on our apartment building’s rooftop, with a favorite cocktail in hand
Madison is also the city that introduced me to the old fashioned. Something which I will forever be grateful for.
5 Star Review
“Thanks for sharing your brandy old fashioned recipe.”— Toby —
About Brandy Old Fashioneds
An old fashioned is a cocktail that has been around since the 19th century but was tragically missing from my life (as were these Peach Margaritas) until I moved to Wisconsin.
While I can’t speak for the rest of the state, in Madison, old fashioneds are a big deal. No matter which bar you enter, chances are that they pour a good one.
While there are a few ways to order an old fashioned, most begin with:
- A sugar cube muddled with bitters, maraschino cherries, and orange
- Splash of soda (regular soda water, Sprite or Squirt are most common depending on if you like your old fashioned sweet, sour or somewhere in between)
- AND a generous pour of booze (whiskey is traditional, but here in Wisconsin, the classic recipe is with brandy)
How to Make a Brandy Old Fashioned
Today’s brandy old fashioned recipe is based on the Madison bar I believe pours the very best, a restaurant appropriately named “The Old Fashioned.”
I’ve watched (and sipped) many brandy old fashioneds here, and after a good amount of at-home experimentation, I believe I’ve nailed their version (they have many on their menu) of an old fashioned press with Korbel.
- Raw Sugar Cube. Helps the orange slices and cherries release their juices. Feel free to use raw turbinado sugar if you don’t keep sugar cubes stocked.
- Maraschino Cherries. Gives the drink a subtle, sweet cherry taste.
- Orange Slices. Gives the cocktail a burst of refreshing citrus.
- Bitters. Balances, enhances and marries all of the flavors together.
- Brandy. Korbel to be exact. It adds such a warm, buttery taste and feel to the cocktail.
- Soda Water. For just a little fizz.
- Lemon-Lime Soda. Adds some extra sweetness to the drink.
- Ice. Because a warm old fashioned is just sad.
- In the bottom of a rock glass, add a sugar cube and sprinkle with bitters. Then, top with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
- Add ice to each glass and then top with brandy, and a splash of lemon-lime soda and club soda.
- Stir to combine and garnish with an orange slice and cherry. ENJOY!
To Madison: the city where I fell in love with Wisconsin, converted 50% of my wardrobe to plaid, realized I feel more complete near water, began my marriage (and a food blog), and made dear friends I’ll cherish you for the rest of my life. Cheers!
Brandy Old Fashioned
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- 1 raw sugar cube or 1/2 teaspoon raw turbinado sugar
- 6 quick dashes bitters
- 2 orange slices divided
- 2 maraschino cherries divided
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 splash lemon-lime soda
- 1 splash club soda or additional lemon-lime soda
- Place sugar cube in the bottom of serving glass a rocks glass is traditional and feels cool. Sprinkle with bitters, then add an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
- Add a few ice cubes to each glass, then top with brandy and a splash of lemon-lime soda and club soda. Stir gently to combine, then garnish with remaining orange slice and cherry. Enjoy immediately.
- A true “press” style cocktail is 1/2 lemon-lime, 1/2 regular soda, but for simplicity, all lemon-lime soda (my preference) or all club soda can be used.
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If you are ever in Madison, these are a few of our favorite places and spaces.
- The Old Fashioned. Home of the city’s best fried cheese curds (order the paprika and tiger blue dipping sauces), best old fashioned, and honest Wisconsin fare (the #35 is my regular pick. #41 is Ben’s). They have a mighty beer list, 100% of which hail from WI.
- Graze. My favorite restaurant for every birthday and anniversary. Order the spicy bibimbap, smashing $21 burger (worth it), fried pickles (mandatory) and any one of their constantly changing craft cocktails.
- Sardine. French bistro with the best mussels + fries in the city, lake view, and a fabulous brunch too. Also, I just feel fancy when I eat here.
- Salvatores Tomatoes Pies. Best pizza I have ever eaten outside of Italy. Tucked away in a suburban strip mall, this place defines hidden gem.
- Brasserie V. Killer Belgian beer list, some of which hit nearly 11% ABV.
- Tipsy Cow. Monday night 1/2-price truffle fries are a regular fixture in our lives. Always excellent beer list.
- The Cooper’s Tavern. More good beer, excellent soft pretzels with beer cheese, and hearty Irish fare with a gourmet twist.
- Jacs Dining and Tap House. Again, I love the beer here (believe it or not, all of these places offer a little something different). Ben’s favorite burger (the Bourbon Burger).
- Alchemy. Incredible sweet potato fries and my favorite burger (the Tinshack Smokehouse Bison Burger).
- Fresco. Feel fancy sipping your cocktail with a rooftop view of the city. The gnocchi rocks my socks and is discounted on Thursday night.
- The Dane County (Downtown Madison) Farmers Market. My heaven on earth.
- Madison Sourdough. I will mourn no longer having this treasure in my neighborhood.
- Batch Bakehouse. City’s best croissants. I treat myself to two every birthday.
- Underground Butcher. Their house-cured sausages are why I can never be a vegetarian.
- Michael’s Frozen Custard. Order one of their classic sundaes in at least a medium size. You’ll thank me later.
- The Memorial Union Terrace. So many memories.