There is no cocktail more beloved to Wisconsinites than the old fashioned, a prohibition-era classic (traditionally made with whiskey, bitters, a sugar cube and lemon) that’s been reimagined by Wisconsin bartenders to include brandy and muddled fruit, along with any number of garnishes like olives, pickled mushrooms or maraschino cherries.
And in the gusty month of February, there’s little better than sitting inside a warm bar, chatting it up with the bartender and sipping on a warming cocktail.
It’s in that spirit that c.1880 has launched a celebration of Wisconsin’s favorite cocktail. Every evening throughout the month of February guests are invited to experience the many faces of the old fashioned through a menu that features twelve distinctly delicious iterations of the venerated tipple.
"It’s Wisconsin," notes general manager and beverage director Joshua Wolter, "And everyone has their favorite way of making an old fashioned. Maybe it’s the way your father or grandfather made it. Maybe it’s the way it’s prepared at your favorite bar. We’re taking the time to celebrate the diversity of the noble old fashioned."
The Old Fashioned Love Song menu includes:
- Old Fashioned 1880 (base spirit: Finn’s barrel-aged gin) – "It’s been a classic here for years," notes Wolter. "And it’s special because the barrel-aged gin is floral, but very much a whiskey drinker’s gin." ($13)
- Wisconsin (base spirit: Korbel brandy) – the classic preparation, right down to the Korbel brandy, muddled sugar cube and maraschino cherry ($10)
- Brazilian (base spirit: Cachaça 21) – envision tropical notes and tart lime along with notes of spice and cherry ($12)
- Mexican (base spirit: El Fumador Reposado) – this luxuriously smoky version of the classic is made with smoked rosemary and ancho chili along with a dash of mezcal ($14)
- Bolivian (base spirit: Singani 63) – Wolter describes this cocktail as a "close cousin to the classic Wisconsin cocktail, but with more herbal notes along with orange and lemon." ($12)
- Italian (base spirit: Rabbit Hole Bourbon) – captures the earthiness of Italian amaro in a bourbon based cocktail ($14)
- Caribbean (base spirit: Plantation 5-year rum) – harnesses the depth and richness of 5-year dark rum that’s underscored by demerara sugar and orange ($12)
- Parisian (base spirit: Pierre Ferrand cognac) – is a sophisticated take made with cognac, elderflower liqueur, ginger and citrus. "It’s soul warming, but lightened with backnotes of elderflower," says Wolter. ($13)
- Canadian (base spirit: Crown Royal) – deep and rich with a hint of maple syrup. Wolter suggests is the sort of drink you’d want to enjoy "up at the cabin." ($13)
- Swiss (base spirit: Willet Potstill Reserve Bourbon) – features a mildly flavored bourbon, leaving room for the herbal notes of chartreuse and genepy. It’s garnished with mint leaves, offering additional aromatics. ($13)
- Cranberry (base spirit: Spring Mill Bourbon) – is a perfect winter cocktail, says Wolter "It has beautiful fruit and spice notes and would be delicious warmed." ($14)
- Figgy (base spirit: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon) – offers sweetness and spice, making it the perfect old fashioned for enjoying with dessert. ($14)
Speaking of dessert, Chef Thomas Hauck will also be showcasing a special old fashioned-inspired dessert throughout the month of February. "Think blood orange, spiced gingerbread and cherries," he says.
c.1880 is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 5:30 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 5 to 10 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.