Wisconsin already drinks more brandy per capita than just about anyplace in the world, but the founders of a Milwaukee distillery want Wisconsinites to choose Wisconsin-made brandy.
Central Standard Craft Distillery co-founders Evan Hughes and Pat McQuillan have launched a month-long campaign to encourage Wisconsinites to request hand-crafted brandy from local, family-owned, Wisconsin distilleries in their Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned cocktails.
“We’d love for everyone to ask for our North Wisconsin brandy when ordering their Old-Fashioned cocktails,” McQuillan says. “But more importantly, we want to encourage people to drink locally, support hard-working Wisconsin families and taste brandy from local distillers.”
To build awareness for their drink-local crusade, Hughes and McQuillan worked with the Wisconsin governor’s office to proclaim September as Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned month and the first day of fall, September 23, as Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Day.
“Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned month is all about showcasing and connecting Wisconsinites with great local distilleries,“ says Hughes, who also is a board member of the Wisconsin Distillers Guild, who adds that the Wisconsin spirits industry supports nearly 40,000 jobs.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of their drink local campaign is their Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame. For the second year, they are seeking nominations for their class of 2023. Anyone can be nominated by entering a nomination here, explaining why someone is worthy in 50 words or less.
“Last year, we inducted six folks from across the state and beyond into the inaugural class of the Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame,” Hughes says. “There was a 90-year-old grandfather nicknamed Old Fashioned; the owner of a State-Fair winning Old-Fashioned recipe; and an out-of-stater who travels home as she just can’t find a quality Old Fashioned outside Wisconsin. That is what the Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame is about: Honoring everyday folks who love and embody our state’s favorite cocktail.”
Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame nominations will be accepted through Sept. 30 and a panel of judges will select this year’s inductees based on the strength of their nomination and their story. The 2023 honorees will be announced in October and an induction ceremony will be held in February.
Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame inductees receive a year’s supply of North Wisconsin brandy; a custom bottle of North Wisconsin brandy with their photo on it; lifetime VIP status at the Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen, the Midwest’s first urban distillery and restaurant at 320 E. Clybourn St. in downtown Milwaukee; and recognition in the Brandy Old Fashioned Hall of Fame in the Founders’ Room at the Crafthouse & Kitchen.
To promote their campaign, they are advertising their drink-local message in billboards across the state and encouraging nominations at their on and off-premise accounts.
“When we ask, people share that they often order the same old brandy in their Old Fashioneds because that’s just what they’ve always done,” McQuillan says. “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, give a brandy from a local 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.”