The Brandy Old Fashioned means as much to Wisconsin as beer, brats and Brett. But just how did this sweet-treat become a beverage staple for Cheeseheads and Brandy lovers everywhere?

It may be simpler than you think.

Let’s play pretend. Say you find yourself at a super club in the heart of Sconnie Nation and you overhear the drink order of the neighboring table.

“I’ll have a Brandy Old Fashioned… I’ll go with a Spotted Cow… Just a Schlitz for me, please,” says the group, as the server makes their way around the table.

Then a little girl chimes in at the end, “I want a Kiddie-Cocktail, EXTRA CHERRIES PLEASE!”

If you aren’t familiar with the child-friendly concoction, this may be the moment where you covertly begin to dial Child Protective Services underneath the table, but hold that call.

A Kiddie-Cocktail, more commonly referred to as a Shirley Temple, is actually a “mocktail”, typically consisting of lemon-lime soda, cherry juice or grenadine, and a cherry garnish. The original mixture used Ginger Ale rather than soda and was supposedly created by a bartender at Chasen’s restaurant in Hollywood, California for the child actress Shirley Temple on her 10th birthday.

Ok, but what does some fancy soda and Hollywood have to do with Wisconsin and Old Fashioneds?

We’re glad you asked.

Almost everyone can recall warm memories of dining out with their family as young children. Whether it was at an upscale restaurant, a local family diner, or the tavern down the road that served the best burgers in town, this cache of experiences is something that has helped to shape us as adults.

That Kiddie-Cocktail you’ve ordered all the way up until you were 21 (and maybe a couple more since with absolutely zero shame) is no different, and may have had a greater impact on your personal taste than you could have imagined.

Have you ever stopped to think what a Brandy Old Fashioned is without the Brandy? Spoiler alert: It’s a Kiddie-Cocktail.

That’s right!

While much of the nation let the Shirley Temple craze flow by and into the past, the Badger State sunk its teeth into the sweet or sour mixture and never let go. Not only will every employee still know what you mean when you order a “Kiddie-Cocktail”, but it’s arguably the reason for the massive statewide popularity of its alcoholic interpretation, the Brandy Old Fashioned.

So while as kids you were ordering Shirley Temples and pretending you were amongst the adults, as an adult, you are ordering spiked Kiddie-Cocktails called Old Fashioneds and pretending you grew up – even though we both know you never did.

So the next time you’re enjoying some Brandy and get that Old Fashioned feeling, you’ll know why.


Standard Kiddie Cocktail Recipe

  • Ice
  • 1 oz. Cherry Juice
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish w/ Cherries


Standard Wisconsin Old Fashioned Recipe

  • Ice
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 oz. 1876 Press House Brandy
  • Sugar Cube
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish w/ Cherry & Orange Slice