By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 31, 2022 at 9:01 AM

As part of a campaign to encourage Wisconsinites to fuel their Old Fashioneds with locally made brandy, Milwaukee’s Central Standard Craft Distillery is kicking off a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame and soliciting nominations for the first round of inductees.

This is all taking place during September, which the office of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has declared Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Month. The proclamation also names Sept. 22 as  Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Day.


Anyone can nominate a potential hall of famer online beginning Thursday, Sept. 1, at Nominations will be accepted through Sept. 30.

You’ll be asked to explain, In 50 words or less, why your nominee is worthy of inclusion in the new hall celebrating Wisconsin’s own twist on the classic cocktail.

The Hall of Famers will be announced in mid-October and each will get a year’s supply of Central Standard’s North Wisconsin brandy; a custom bottle of North Wisconsin brandy with their photo on it; lifetime VIP status at the Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen, 320 E. Clybourn St. in downtown Milwaukee; and their photo displayed in the Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame in the Founders’ Room at the Crafthouse & Kitchen.

“We continually hear almost unbelievable Brandy Old Fashioned stories -- 88-year-old grandmothers who enjoy one every week; bartenders who’ve perfected their recipe over decades; and folks who’ve moved away but return home every month as they just can't find a quality Old Fashioned outside Wisconsin,” said Central Standard co-founder Evan Hughes.

“This new hall of fame will commemorate those stories and honor everyday folks who love and celebrate the Brandy Old Fashioned.”

In October, Hughes and his partner Pat McQuillan will launch their drink-local campaign on billboards around the Badger State. As part of the campaign, Central Standard will introduce a specialty Old Fashioned cocktail menu, and sell commemorative T-shirts and posters at the Crafthouse & Kitchen.

“When we ask, people share that they often order the same old brandy because that’s just what they’ve always done,” said McQuillan.

“When they taste ours and others made here in Wisconsin, they’re floored by the flavor. That’s our ask: Next time you order an Old Fashioned, and especially during Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned month, give one from a local Wisconsin distillery a try as we’ll put the taste of our North Wisconsin brandy up against any competitors across the country or around the world.”

Help celebrate Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Month with a free Brandy Old Fashioned toast at a special Crafthouse & Kitchen happy hour on Sept. 6.

And keep your eyes peeled for the unveiling of the next installment in Central Standard’s next Brewmasters Series collaboration, surprise free Old Fashioneds at venues around the state on Sept 22 and other surprises.

“Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned month is all about showcasing and connecting Wisconsinites with great local distilleries,“ said Hughes, who sits on the board of the Wisconsin Distillers Guild.

“Here in Wisconsin, the spirits industry supports more than 39,000 jobs from family farmers and truck drivers to glass-bottle makers and those in the hospitality industries. In all, Wisconsin distilleries impact billions of dollars in economic activity each and every year in our state.”

“We’d love for everyone to ask for our North Wisconsin brandy when ordering their Old-Fashioned cocktails,” McQuillan added. “But more importantly, we want to encourage people to drink locally, support hard-working Wisconsin families and taste brandy from local distillers.”

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.