Make a Brandy Old Fashioned and treat yourself to a classic Midwestern cocktail at home. So sweet and delicious, you may want another!

Orange hued cocktail with ice, orange slice and cherry skewer.

This brandy old fashioned recipe is a classic in the Midwest.

I’ve been rewatching Mad Men lately. It’s probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve watched the series all the way through, or maybe even more. I’ve lost count!

In the Season 3, Episode 3 episode, “My Old Kentucky Home,” Don meets Conrad Hilton and ends up making old fashioneds for them both. He muddles the cherry and the orange, adds some sort of brown liquor, but then . . . tops it with soda.

I’d never heard of an old fashioned that included soda, so I Googled it. Turns out that what Don made looks a lot like a brandy old fashioned, which is a classic cocktail in the Midwest, and especially Wisconsin.

Many people even claim that the brandy old fashioned is the (un)official drink of Wisconsin!

Well, you know me. I’m a Midwesterner at heart with an affinity for a potato egg salad and making my lasagna made with cottage cheese, so brandy old fashioneds swiftly made it into the cocktail rotation at my house.

Why you’ll love this Wisconsin Old Fashioned Recipe

  • It has a very drinkable balance of sweetness, depth and warmth.
  • It’s good all year long! While traditional old fashioneds are a bit strong and heavy for summer, a brandy old fashioned is light enough to enjoy on a hot day.
Two orange hued cocktails with maraschino cherries, brandy, orange bitters, and 7-up cans in background.

Is a brandy old fashioned sweet?

Like my bourbon apple cider, a brandy old fashioned is definitely on the sweeter end of the cocktail spectrum, and I think that’s why people find it so alluring. They go down very easy, so be careful!

The sweetness in a brandy old fashioned comes from a variety of sources. There’s the marascino cherries PLUS some of the juice from the cherry jar. There’s the orange slice (and the juice that comes out of it). There’s the sugar cube. And then there’s the lemon-lime soda.

If all of this is TOO sweet for you (and I don’t blame you), feel free to just omit the sugar cube. I often do that, and enjoy it just as well that way.

Ingredients for a brandy old fashioned, including brandy, 7-up, maraschino cherries and orange bitters.

Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned ingredients

  • maraschino cherries and their juice
  • orange
  • sugar cube (or a small spoonful of demerara sugar)
  • orange bitters
  • brandy
  • ice
  • lemon-lime soda

Best Brandy for Old Fashioned

Ultimately, the best brandy for your old fashioned is the one you have on hand, that you enjoy drinking!

I don’t feel a need to buy a super high-quality brandy for brandy old fashioneds, but I also don’t enjoy drinking the cheapest varieties available, either.

I’ve found E & J Brandy Grand Blue to be a good choice. It has a smooth taste, it’s not too expensive, and it’s widely available.

Two brandy old fashioneds garnished with maraschiono cherries and orange slices.

How to make a brandy old fashioned

1. MUDDLE. In a double old fashioned glass (or any fancy cocktail glass you prefer), muddle the cherries, cherry juice, orange slice, sugar and bitters until everything is crushed and somewhat blended together.

2. STIR. Add the brandy and stir until everything is well combined and the sugar completely dissolves into the brandy.

3. FINISH. Fill your glass with ice, and then top everything off with lemon-lime soda (7-Up, Sprite, etc.).

Closeup on a brandy old fashioned cocktail garnished with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Home Chef Tips

  • If you have large ice cubes or ice spheres available, use them to minimize dilution while keeping your cocktail cold.
  • Adjust the sweetness and intensity of your brandy old fashioned to suit your palate. You can add more or less sugar, bitters or soda, depending on your preferences.

What to Serve with this Sweet Old Fashioned Recipe

Well, if you’re drinking like you live in the Midwest, you may as well eat like you live here, too. And us Midwesterners love pizza. Try a cheeseburger pizza or chicken pizza.

Or, if you just want a few little nibbles during happy hour, my phyllo cup appetizers and spicy potato chips both make great pairings for this drink.

Orange hued cocktail with ice, orange slice and cherry skewer.

Brandy Old Fashioned Recipe

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Make a Brandy Old Fashioned and treat yourself to a classic Midwestern cocktail at home. So sweet and delicious, you may want another!


  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • 1 teaspoon juice from the maraschino cherry jar
  • 1 slice of orange (about 1/8th of a medium orange, peel and all)
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 ounces brandy
  • Ice
  • Lemon-lime soda


  1. In a double old fashioned glass, muddle cherries, cherry juice, orange slice, sugar and bitters until crushed.
  2. Add brandy and stir until well combined.
  3. Fill glass with ice.
  4. Top off cocktail with lemon-lime soda.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 204Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g

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