An Old Fashioned Ode

Crisp fall air leads to leaves changing colors, light jackets, and Old Fashioneds. Maybe it’s just a Wisconsin thing? It’s definitely an Up North thing. There’s just something about the cool air that brings out the unofficial Wisconsin cocktail.

The Eagle River area loves its Old Fashioned so much that we’ve been holding Old Fashioneds Up North for half a decade. (Sorry, we don’t have any tickets available; they sold out within hours last month!) With supper clubs, first-rate taverns, and grocery stores with all the fixings, anyone age 21 and older can still enjoy a top-notch Old Fashioned in our neck of the woods this fall and winter.

Before we wax poetic about the Old Fashioned, let’s detail the classic ways to make one.

Brandy Sweet
(and Non-Wisconsin Versions)

Wisconsin is known for the brandy Old Fashioned. Fun fact: Wisconsin drinks more brandy than all other states in the U.S. – combined. Brandy is the spirit derived from distilled wine or another fermented juice. Most of the country uses whiskey for its alcohol.

While the rest of the nation makes and Old Fashioned without any kind of soda mixer, Wisconsin has different takes depending on the mixer added. An Old Fashioned sweet uses 7-Up or equivalent sweet clear soda. Sugar can be added for the biggest sweet tooths. Sour versions use Squirt or equivalent. There also is a “press” version that uses half 7-Up and half club soda.

A true Wisconsin Old Fashioned will also include muddled cherries and/or oranges along with bitters. When made in our neck of the woods, the art of muddling becomes something akin to pageantry.

A plate of meatballs and a drink on a table.

Supper Clubs and Taverns

If you want a true Up North Wisconsin Old Fashioned, you’ve got to order one from a true professional. Those pros are behind the bar of Eagle River area supper clubs and taverns. The term mixologist is a bit too hoity-toity for our parts, but these bartenders deserve some praise for their muddling skills and twisted takes on the Wisconsin classic.

In addition to a great drink, these local eateries are the perfect way to refuel and socialize with travel partners after an activity-packed autumn day. From trails and lakes to shopping and festivals, the Eagle River area is quickly growing into a must-stop fall destination.

While a good Old Fashioned might go down easy, it’s important to enjoy this Up North classic responsibly. Make sure set arrangements for a designated driver or sober transportation.

Make Your Own, Up North

Want to make your own Old Fashioned? We have the necessary ingredients at Pick ‘N Save and Trig’s to make it happen. Try your hand at the classic Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet and the whiskey sour. Check out this short video to see how to mix a traditional Wisconsin Old Fashioned. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider substitutes (fall cranberries instead of cherries?) or additions (a dash of St. Germain?) to make an original drink.

Enjoy your drink at a cabin, campground, or hotel with dinner or as a nightcap to another successful day up in the Eagle River area.

It’s hard to beat an Old Fashioned crafted by an expert, but there’s an added sense of pride that goes into tasting something you’ve created special.

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Yes, it’s Time for an Old Fashioned

When you drink an Old Fashioned up here in fall, it just tastes better. Who knows why. Could be the way it looks like colorful autumn trees. Could be the restaurant you’re having it at. Could be the people you’re with when tasting it. No matter the reason, get your tastebuds—and best buds—up here to see what we mean.

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