Libations: The Midwestern twist on the old fashioned classic
Old Fashioned Recipe
4 oz. whiskey
2 oz. simple syrup
In 12 oz. glass, muddle an orange slice, one Maraschino cherry and a sugar cube (or teaspoon of sugar)
• Add a few dashes of Angostura bitters to taste, mix until sugar is dissolved
• Add 2 oz. of simple syrup (or cherry juice for extra flavor and color)
• Add 4 oz. of preferred whiskey
• Add ice, and fill glass with 7UP
• Garnish with extra cherry
For extra Wisconsin style, use brandy instead of whiskey.
To make a sour old fashioned, remove cherries and simple syrup. Use 50/50 or Squirt soda instead of 7UP and garnish with olives.
With the arrival of offseason, the number of venues offering custom cocktails has dropped for a few months. To help fill the void of alcoholic drinks not involving the word beer, I’ve gone back to my roots: A Wisconsin old fashioned.
The old fashioned is no stranger to the area, with any number of establishments offering walls of whiskey, custom-infused bitters and oranges that’ve been to more countries than I have. (For ideas for this column, I asked Marble Bar Aspen about their old fashioned recipe, and the description of their “Hoover’s Revenge” whiskey alone has put their drink on my list to try once they reopen.)
However, the Wisconsin recipe stands apart, insulated to a one-state variation on a well-known cocktail, and is a testament to tasty drinking efficiency, or at least Midwestern stereotypes. My dad’s recipe for a whiskey old fashioned sweet, honed over decades of fish fries, supper clubs and family reunions, combines enough sugar to make sure you want another with enough alcohol to make sure you’re not messing around.
The result is a tall orange and red drink that’s perfect for being outdoors in a Hawaiian shirt with 50 degree weather, while still retaining that classic old fashioned tinge. And the sour variation adds some sophistication and can make you fancy yourself as a James Bond type, if James Bond was a yokel.
Asking a bartender around here for a Wisconsin old fashioned is most likely going to lead to a quizzical look, and explaining it will probably end up with you drinking a 7 and 7. So, while I’m not expecting the Wisconsin-style old fashioned to take the world by storm, having my own personal variation on a barroom classic in the comfort of my apartment offers a pleasant nostalgia with a quality cocktail.
“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.