This past weekend in the distillery we released two craft whiskies...batch number three of our coveted Craftsman Bourbon and a brand new whiskey blend we've dubbed Wisconsin Whiskey. Here in Wisconsin, we like our whiskies smooth and our cocktails strong, and we have a drinking heritage that is not always something for which we are proud. But we are extremely proud of two facets of our current cocktail culture...one quite new and one quite old...the first being the emergence of high quality craft distilling, and the second being the tradition of the Wisconsin Supper Club.
Somewhat hard to describe but easy to love, if you are not from the upper Midwest, the supper club may not be something you have had the pleasure to experience. Today's supper clubs are a gem in the landscape of Wisconsin's dining culture. Maybe it's the coziness during a long winter, maybe it's the fish fry, or maybe it's the tradition of being family-owned for decades. There's just something about the supper club that we Wisconsinites can't get enough of. Oh wait...maybe it's the Old Fashioned.
If Wisconsin had a state cocktail, it would undoubtedtly be the Old Fashioned. While the Old Fashioned largely fell out of favor years ago in other parts of the country, here in the Badger State our love for it has continued unabashed and unabated. Traditionally, Old Fashioneds were crafted from whiskey, but in Wisconsin, it has long been a brandy concoction. We are, after all, the state which consumes roughly one third of all the brandy Korbel makes. But now that we are seeing a home grown boom in the craft distilling scene...much of which is being led by whiskey production...our mixologists are going back to their Old Fashioned roots and blending this signature cocktail with Bourbon.
Bourbon at its finest is strong but smooth, and connoisseurs drink it neat or on the rocks. Being a relatively new whiskey enthusiast, my taste for Bourbon pairs well with the style of Old Fashioned most often poured in Wisconsin. A nice bold spirit is complemented by a dash of bitters and a muddle of orange and cherry...just the right balance of boozy sweetness. This is how we pour an Old Fashioned in the River Bend distillery, and I think our Wisconsin supper clubs would approve. Now if we only had a Friday night fish fry...
Join us again next week as we head back inside the winery. We'll be talking about our newly released reserve wine, a Bourbon barrel-aged Shiraz, and what the term "reserve" does...and does not...mean when it comes to wine.