Wisconsin's 'Friday Night Tradition' May Become Official

Bill proposed by GOP lawmakers there wants brandy old-fashioned deemed the state drink
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2023 12:47 PM CDT
This State May Soon Have a Novel Drink as Its State Beverage
Stock photo of old-fashioned drinks at a bar.   (Getty Images/rez-art)

There's a "Friday night tradition" in Wisconsin, per WISC, and it doesn't center on football. Instead, it apparently involves quaffing brandy old-fashioneds, the drink of choice for many Wisconsites, and it's a libation that may soon become the state's official cocktail. GOP lawmakers there have proposed a bill that would do just that, making the Badger State the third state to make an alcoholic drink their official beverage (Virginia and Alabama have chosen whiskey, per the Washington Post). The paper explains that although an old-fashioned is typically made with bourbon or other whiskey, grain used for those kinds of liquors ran dry during World War II, so Wisconsin improvised with brandy instead.

"If you were going to order an old-fashioned, you could get it made with either questionable whiskey or good brandy," cocktail historian Jeanette Hurt tells the paper. "We're not stupid—we chose brandy!" She adds, "And then our kids started drinking brandy, and then our grandkids, and suddenly everybody's drinking brandy." Some Wisconsin versions of the classic cocktail even include unusual garnishes, such as hard-boiled eggs, picked vegetables, and cheese curds, a Wisconsin delicacy.

Not everyone is thrilled about the proposal. "Our hard-working Republicans lawmakers ... may have had a few too many when they sent out a resolution recently seeking to make the brandy old-fashioned Wisconsin's official state cocktail, presumably with the best interests of the citizens of Wisconsin in mind," a Sunday letter to the editor to the Wisconsin State Journal reads. "To balance things out, I suggest they also introduce a resolution for the official state disease: alcoholism. This has permanently altered the lives—and deaths—of thousands of Wisconsin citizens." The bill is in circulation now and set to be introduced in November, per WISC. (More Wisconsin stories.)

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