1894 Milwaukee Brandy Revolution
Brandy & The Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893
The Brandy Revolution took root in Milwaukee during the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. This global event drew many Wisconsinites, and amidst the various exhibitions, Captain Pabst showcased his beer, Aunt Jemima demonstrated her pancake mix, and attendees had the opportunity to taste Californian Brandy.
Notably, according to Jeanette Hurt, the author of “Wisconsin Cocktails,” German Wisconsinites were particularly enamored with the brandy crafted by the Korbel brothers, a preference that soon gained popularity across the state.
By 1894, brandy had surged in popularity, catalyzing a cocktail revolution in Milwaukee, where classic cocktails began to feature brandy instead of whiskey. The “Brandy Old Fashioned” became especially favored among the younger German demographic, solidifying its status as the preferred drink of Wisconsinites.
Post-World War II, a shortage of quality brandy prompted Wisconsin distributors to search far and wide to meet the rising demand. They succeeded in procuring an exclusive stash of 30,000 cases of meticulously aged brandy from Christian Brothers, satisfying the appetite for quality brandy in the state.
However, American Brandy gradually lost its market share over the years. In a pivotal moment in 1964, Congress bestowed special recognition upon Bourbon, designating it as a signature product of the United States and providing global quality protection. In response, the AmBRu Campaign emerged, advocating for a similar level of recognition and protection for American Brandy, aiming to honor its historical significance and uphold quality standards for the United States of America.
The Distilling Culture
Embark on a global journey, and you’ll find that cultures possess tales that harken back to their ancient beginnings of distillation, brewing, and winemaking.
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