By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 22, 2021 at 7:01 AM

Thanks to the efforts of Central Standard Craft Distillery, Gov. Tony Evers has proclaimed Sept. 22 to be Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Day, celebrating the Badger State’s unique twist on a classic American cocktail.

The governor simultaneously declared September to be Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Month.

"Today and throughout this month, the state of Wisconsin joins Old Fashioned-
enthusiasts across our state in reflecting on the rich history of the Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned and in supporting our local distilleries, bars, restaurants, and supper clubs by responsibly enjoying this signature drink," the proclamation says.

Central Standard will toast the day at a public event at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The effort by the owners of the Milwaukee distillery, Evan Hughes and Pat McQuillan, is to urge drinkers to support local makers.

“Our goal with the campaign is simple,” said Hughes, who is also serves of the board of the Wisconsin Distillers Guild. “We want everyone to try a brandy from a local distillery in their next Old Fashioned cocktail. 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.”

To help spread that message, Central Standard has captured 36 billboards across the state, McQuillan and Hughes will be doing radio interviews and plan to surprise drinkers around Wisconsin by buying them Old Fashioneds made with Central Standard’s North Wisconsin Brandy.

At its Milwaukee tasting room, 320 E. Clybourn St., Central Standard will also sell commemorative T-shirts and posters and offers a specialty Old Fashioned menu.

(You can read a history of the tasting room building in this Urban Spelunking story.)

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

“That’s our ask: Next time you order an Old Fashioned, and especially today on Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Day, give one from a local Wisconsin company a try as we’ll put the taste of our North Wisconsin brandy up against any competitors across the country or around the world.”

In related news, Central Standard is preparing to launch a new series of brandies finished in beer barrels.

For the Brewmasters Series, the distillery will partner with breweries around the region on special limited-edition North Wisconsin Brandy releases that will be finished in barrels brewmasters had previously used for aging beer.

More details on the series are expected to be announced soon.

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.