There is no shortage of Wisconsin-made products that will give you a cheery glow and warm you up during the cold, dark winters. From flavorful spirits to unique beers (the kind our grandparents wouldn’t classify as beer), Wisconsin has a huge variety of locally sourced and made beverage choices that can level up your holiday celebrations.
Our Favorite Wisconsin Whiskey Distilleries
With 27 distilleries across the state of Wisconsin, there are a range of local spirits to choose from for any cocktail creation. Stock up on bottles for your home bar or support local by gifting a Wisconsin whiskey or bourbon. Although it’s impossible to choose a favorite, here’s some great local distilleries that have a selection of spirits:
- Great Lakes Distillery – This distillery has produced multiple award-winning whiskeys over the years. From the Kinnickinnic Whiskey, a blend of Straight Bourbon and gold medal winner, to the Still & Oak Bourbon that took the most recent gold at the 2021 Denver International Spirits Competition, there are plenty of quality spirits (including apple and pear brandy) to make delicious cocktails.
- J Henry & Sons – Bourbons that are truly a labor of love, these small batch, 5 year slow-aged farmstead spirits use Wisconsin’s weather patterns to produce a work of magic. Aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, caramel and allspice all contribute to the award-winning Wisconsin-made craft bourbons of the Henry Farmstead.
- Driftless Glen – As a winner of the 2019 Wisconsin Distillery of the Year award, Driftless Glen’s top three whiskeys all scored in the 90s. Their grain to glass approach starts with locally sourced grains to create a solid foundation to prepare these whiskies to be aged and matured to perfection.
- Yahara Bay – Madison’s first distillery has produced spirits since 2007 and has an assortment of brandy and whiskey to satisfy alcohol connoisseurs. Sourcing local ingredients, Yahara Bay plays with their spirits by using different aging approaches to produce crisp and clean flavors in every sip.
Holiday Cocktails for Whiskey Afficionados
Need some guidance on how to craft the perfect drink to impress your guests? One of our favorite bartenders and creators, Anders Erickson, models how to create classic and unique cocktails (using Wisconsin whiskey, of course) that can even bring a smile to your Aunt Karen’s face. Follow along to make some snazzy seasonal beverages for your party guests.
- Whiskey Sour – This classic cocktail is simple – combine Wisconsin bourbon with lemon juice and simple syrup and enjoy it on the rocks!
- The Lion’s Tail – You’ll need Wisconsin bourbon, simple syrup, lime, angostura, and allspice for this feisty drink.
- The Ward Eight – Shake up some rye Wisconsin whiskey, orange juice, lemon juice, cherries, and optional grenadine.
- Rusty Nail – Scotch lovers rejoice! Grab a Wisconsin scotch whiskey, drambuie, and angostura bitters and enjoy this cocktail on the rocks or neat.
- The Scofflaw – Spicy, fruity, dry, and complex – to make this cocktail you’ll need Wisconsin bourbon, dry vermouth, lemon juice, grenadine, and orange bitters.
Since 1893 when Korbel first introduced the old fashioned at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, Wisconsinites German heritage love for brandewijn jumpstarted the brandy obsession. The sweeter liquor made a unique old fashioned and Wisconsin brandy consumption surpassed the rest of the states. Want proof? Korbel Brandy shared that of the 275,000 cases sold in 2019 around the world, 150,000 of those were sold in Wisconsin. Creating crafty cocktails became necessary to satisfy the tastebuds of those participating in the staggering Wisconsin brandy consumption rates, and beyond the Wisconsin-made old fashioned, many other brandy-based drinks gained popularity.
Our favorite Wisconsin Brandy Drinks
- Old fashioned – Call us old fashioned, but we love a good Wisconsin brandy ???? and we’ve held the Wisconsinite tradition strong to change up the classic version of this cocktail. Anders, a true Wisconsin native gives us step-by-step instructions on how to make a drink to impress more than just the in-laws this holiday season.
- Wisconsin brandy slush – A classic drink to help battle those Midwestern summer days, you can’t go wrong with making this fun cocktail during holiday celebrations. You can even claim these adult snow cones are reasonably healthy since they’re green tea and fruit based!
- Sidecar – Using a quality brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, this cocktail is simple to make with a complex flavor profile that’ll leave your guests’ tastebuds dancing in delight. Since a 2:1:1 ratio can be quite tart, try using slightly less lemon juice.
- Sazerac – The New Orleans original that’s credited as being one of the very first true cocktails combine 1.5 ounces of rye whiskey, ¼ ounce of Absinthe, and 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters. Finish off with a sugar cube to tone down the booziness of this stiff cocktail.
- Brandy Alexander – this boozy delight may be the second oldest brandy cocktail after the old fashioned. It’s a creamy, classier version of a White Russian, and the perfect dessert cocktail to round-off a holiday meal.
Best Wisconsin Beers
As of 2020, Wisconsin is home to 224 craft beer breweries, so it’s safe to say that Wisconsin really has every type and flavor of beer you could possibly desire. From classic lagers to hoppy IPAs and chocolatey stouts, we could spend years tasting the best Wisconsin beers. Here are some recommendations to stock up for the holidays so you can cater to all your guests’ beer preferences.
- New Glarus Brewing – Spotted Cow – This traditional farmhouse ale is a classic Wisconsin brew produced year-round. Check out the rest of New Glarus Brewing’s seasonal beers for some festive winter options.
- Stevens Point Brewery – Point Special – A flagship brew since 1857, the Pointe Special is an award-winning Pilsner that encompasses everything a classic American-style lager should provide your tastebuds to accompany a meaty meal.
- Eagle Park Brewing – Known for their IPAs and unique beers, this brewery will make you want to toast to every sip. We won’t blame you for drooling when you read their beer menu.
- Karben4 – Gun-wielding cats aboard fire-breathing unicorns are just one of the fantastic labels you’ll see on these delightful brews. Karben4 also hopped on the hard seltzer train, so if you’re trying to acquire a range of beverages for holiday guests, pick up some CHU-HI along with beers to get the party started.
- O’so Brewing Company – With barrel aged sour beers, an award-winning wheat ale, and a complex and mysterious porter, O’so offers beers that will suit every flavor profile. They even have an Imperial porter brewed with coffee if you need a pick me up!
So whether you’re hoping to wow your guests with a selection of the best Wisconsin beer or you’re looking for a tasteful Wisconsin bourbon to enjoy during the cold winter, our locally made products are a solid choice. As a Wisconsin company ourselves, we at Thorogood USA are always looking for ways to support our local peers, especially around the holidays. We’re planning on making our holidays brighter with these Wisconsin-made favorites, off the job-site of course. ????