Lost Lantern Wollersheim Bourbon Cocktail

American Vatted Malt cocktail
Our California state manager Drew Record

To go along with Lost Lantern’s Spring 2024 Collection, the Midwest Collection, our California state manager, Drew Record, has prepared a series of cocktails. There are seven unique releases in the Midwest Collection and Drew has created a cocktail to showcase each one of the releases. Next up in the series is our Wollersheim Bourbon Cocktail – Choose Your Own Wisconsin Old Fashioned Adventure. 

 

LOST LANTERN WOLLERSHEIM BOURBON COCKTAIL: The Choose Your Own Wisconsin Old Fashioned Adventure

Do you need a drink, like right now?

  • No, I can wait through an article – Scroll past the recipe, about halfway down the page, to the article below. Start at paragraph (I.) and read through to the finish of paragraph (IV.)  
  • Yes, that is why I clicked this link – Start the recipe directly below.

Wollersheim Bourbon CocktailChoose Your Own Wisconsin Old Fashioned Adventure RECIPE

You walk into a dimly lit bar. In the corner there is a television faintly playing what sounds like a college ball game. Two women in red and white color blocked shirts are cheering for what you assume is the home team. By the door is a splintering coat rack, sagging under the weight of Gore-Tex and down feathers.

The smallest drift of snow has followed you in. You quickly close the door and you hurry up to the bartender to order an old fashioned. They meet your eye and somewhat incredulously ask you a question, “Do you want whiskey?” You respond…

  • No, whyever would I want whiskey in my Old Fashioned? – Scroll to the end of paragraph (I.)* in the article below. 
  • Yeah, of course I want whiskey- collect your first ingredient and proceed through the recipe.  

Step one: Pour 2 oz Lost Lantern Wollersheim Bourbon Single Cask into a mixing glass. 

They look you up and down, not sure if they believe your answer. A couple are alternating between quarreling and kissing several seats down from where you stand. Your attention turns back to the bartender when they ask, “You, visiting from New York?”

  • Why, yes, I am! – scroll to the end of paragraph (II.)** in the article below. 
  • No – collect your next ingredient and proceed through the recipe. 

Step two: Take two large red maraschino cherries and two slices of orange and place them in the bottom of a mixing tin with your bourbon (some simple syrup or sugar is also traditional, but we will forgo it here despite our undying sweet tooth) and muddle the fruit until everything is well mashed. 

The bartender starts pouring, but they still don’t believe that you aren’t visiting. For one, they don’t recognize you, and they know the name of nearly every person in this bar. Two, you give off an unmistakable desperate New Yorker quality, like a hand-drawn cartoon in need of a witty caption. With a sigh the bartender says, “topper.” You don’t hear it so much as a question but rather a blurted-out statement of fact. Again, they say, “topper.” You now realize it was a question and you reply…

  • Topper? I hardly… and before you can finish your crude joke the bartender has signaled to the two ruddy-faced regulars whom you hadn’t realized had sidled up behind you. In the blink of an eye, you feel one of their mittened hands on your shoulder. Before you can wonder why they would still have their mittens on inside you are escorted out of the tavern. You tuck your inflight magazine under your arm and head off in the direction of the second most charming bar on the list of Prairie du Sac nightlife. 
  • Sweet – scroll down to “Sweet” in paragraph III *** of the article below to collect your next ingredient and then return here to finish the recipe. 
  • Sour – scroll down to “Sour” in paragraph III ***** of the article below to collect your next ingredient and then return here to finish the recipe. 
  • Seltzer – scroll down to “Seltzer” in paragraph III ****** of the article below to collect your next ingredient and then return here to finish the recipe. 
  • Press – scroll down to “Press” in paragraph III ******* of the article below to collect your next ingredient and then return here to finish the recipe. 

Dump your whiskey and fruit concoction from the tin into a large rocks glass and top with ice. (If you don’t want all the fruit you can strain out the larger pieces and then garnish with fresh cherries and orange slices.) Add 4-5 healthy dashes of Angostura bitters to the glass and top with your chosen pop and give a little stir. 

The bartender hands you a large glass, filled to the brim. The orange and red hue catches the light from the Leinenkugel neon hanging in the bar window. You are mesmerized. You take a sip and smile, the bubbles from the pop tickling your nose. “Glad you like it,” the bartender says, “that’ll be six dollars.” You smile and take a ten from your wallet. You settle in at the bar and start chatting with the bartender. You…

  • tell them you used to bartend, and you ask them about the history of the Wisconsin Old Fashioned – Scroll to the article below. Start at paragraph (I.) and read through to the finish of paragraph (IV.)  
  • ask them where else you should go for a drink? – scroll back to the top and start over at the beginning of the recipe. 

Article I.

For those of us who started bartending when all bar spoons still had red plastic tips and were only used to fish cherries or olives out of massive jars, the Old Fashioned was probably a lot different than the one you’d get at a craft cocktail bar these days. The recipe I first learned was something similar to what I have now come to know as the Wisconsin Old Fashioned. A bunch of bright red maraschino cherries, a couple of orange slices, and a splash of soda. (And in Wisconsin it is true you would use brandy, but we are a whiskey company so *if you want a Brandy old fashioned, I guess you can just stop reading now.) 

Article II.

To understand Wisconsin drinking culture, I decided it was best to talk to a Wisconsin bartender. I met DiDi Saiki when she was the GM of famed Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco, but her formative years were spent behind the stick in Milwaukee. I asked her what made bartending in Wisconsin different from anywhere else. She told me that in Wisconsin the bars are a big part of the culture. Milwaukee is not a town made famous for its tourism. But their bars are some of the finest in the country for building up a crowd of loyal regulars.

For DiDi, every Old Fashioned someone ordered was a Wisconsin Old Fashioned, there wasn’t an alternative. Of course, I asked her what happened when someone ordered one at Bourbon & Branch in SF. She said she only made a Wisconsin Old Fashioned when she found out someone was visiting from there. Rather than assume she would of course she would ask them what they wanted, **and most visitors would want the classic and simple pre-prohibition Old Fashioned that has come to symbolize the cocktail renaissance of the early 2000’s. No fruit salad. No bright red cherries. The end. 

Article III.

What I really wanted to know though was if it was true that every Wisconsin Old Fashioned came topped? Even in my early bar days, pre-renaissance, I found it odd to add soda water to an Old Fashioned. And we aren’t talking about a little splash. These were cocktails built in gargantuan 12–14-ounce rocks glasses, affectionately referred to as buckets by the owner of the bar.

That meant that after my 3-ounce free pour of well bourbon, the aforementioned fruit salad and some half-melted party ice there was still room in the glass for 4 ounces or more of soda. When I asked DiDi about this she laughed and assured me that all Old Fashioneds in Wisconsin are topped with something.

The something depends of course on how you order the drink. There is a specific nomenclature to ordering an Old Fashioned in Wisconsin, just like ordering a cheesesteak in Philly, you need to know what your options are before you get to the front of the line to order. Didi broke them down like this:

Sweet**** – This means you want lemon-lime soda on top. Most likely the big-name brand, but some bars still carry Sprecher Green River Lemon Lime soda. If you are a college student you might be topping it with Sun-Drop, which is a bit like midwestern Mountain Dew with even more caffeine and a more distinctive orange flavor. 

Sour***** – This means you want grapefruit soda on top. But confusingly it could also mean you want sour mix on top. For that distinction you are just going to have to know the type of bar you are in and possibly watch the bartender make a few drinks. Squirt is the go-to now but if you want a true Wisconsin experience you need to find some Kick-a-poo Joy Juice.

Seltzer****** – This means you want soda water. Pretty self-explanatory here.

Press******* – This means you want an equal blend of sprite and seltzer. But again, it could mean you want a mix of sour and seltzer in some places. So just be sure to clarify if you are picky out-of-towner and don’t want to drink whatever mix of pop they put on top.

Article IV. 

The important thing to know about the Wisconsin Old Fashioned is that for better or for worse, it kept the Old Fashioned alive. Some might look up their noses at the fruit salad garnish and the healthy dose of sugar in the form of soda pop, but when the rest of the country forgot how to make cocktails, Wisconsin didn’t.

Wisconsin was right there forging ahead. The thing DiDi said that stuck with me most about bar culture in Wisconsin was, “being in a bar is something everyone does, so {as a bartender} you are very much a therapist, best friend, lover, community organizer.” Wisconsin understands the bar and supper club as an important third place in society. A place to come together, share a story and a drink and get in and out from the cold.

Now go back to the top of the page and make yourself a drink… you earned it

 

Learn more about Lost Lantern Wollersheim Bourbon Wisconsin Straight Bourbon 

 

 

 

Additional cocktails from our Midwest Collection: