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Drink Recipes

An Old-Fashioned slushie for National Bourbon Day

MILWAUKEE — With temperatures outside hotter than the insides of a bratwurst on the grill, it’s a good time to turn your Old-Fashioned into a cocktail slush. But just dumping the ingredients — ice and all — into a Magic Bullet isn’t going to work.

Making a slush version of any cocktail starts by deconstructing what defines the cocktail, said Great Lakes Distillery chief mixologist, Brendan Cleary.

“What’s the biggest thing that stands out,” he said. “In an Old-Fashioned it’s orange, cherry is secondary, so you want to pull out the orange and bourbon flavors.”

Cleary knows how to construct a cocktail slush. Great Lakes Distillery sells 10 gallons of the boozy iced drinks in the tasting room each weekend during the summer, he said. The double slush machine always has Caramel Milwaukiato Slush (a blend of Still & Oak Straight Bourbon, Good Land Coffee Liqueur, coffee, caramel, cream with whipped topping and espresso dusting) ready to go on one side and rotation of various cocktail slushes on the other.

This Bourbon Old-Fashioned Sweet Slush was a first at Great Lakes, he said, in honor of the bourbon’s 2021 gold medal from the Denver International Spirits Competition.

If you missed it at the tasting room, here’s how to make it at home.

Bourbon Old-Fashioned Sweet Slush 

16 ounces orange juice 

16 ounces lemon-lime soda

7 ounces Great Lakes Distillery Still & Oak Straight Bourbon 

3 ounces juice from canned cherries 

½ ounce bitters 

1 strong bar spoon of confectioners sugar 

Cherries and orange wedges for garnish (optional)

In a large measuring cup or mixing bowl, combine orange juice and soda. Pour into small paper or plastic cups, less than 4 ounces each, and freeze overnight. 

Combine bourbon, cherry juice, bitters and sugar in blender or food processor. Add frozen orange juice soda blocks. Lightly blend in 10-second increments until the slush has a thick texture without large chunks.  

Pour into 4 cocktail glasses. Garnish with cherries and orange wedge. 

(Recipe from Great Lakes Distillery)

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Turning the Old-Fashioned cocktail into a slush starts by deconstructing the drink to identify the key flavors. This slush recipe from Great Lakes Distillery builds on the bourbon, orange and bitters flavors. Cherry juice adds a pinkish-red color.

TASTING NOTES: Cherry might be the secondary fruit flavor, but the juice turns this drink into a suitable summery pinkish-red hue. 

A well-balanced blend of bourbon, orange and bitters flavors flow throughout the icy texture. All those flavors stay strong even as it melts. No ice cubes means no watery melt to dilute this cocktail.

EQUIPMENT: Large measuring cup, mixing bowl, wooden spoon, small (less than 4-ounces) paper or plastic cups, cooking sheet, shot glass, spoon, ladle and blender or food processor.