ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.

Wisconsin and Korbel Brandy

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Wet and hankerin’ for a drink.

Sam, Pidi and I had finished a hike through the New Hampshire woods, gazing into holes that were formerly people’s cellars, now abandoned and full of leaves and garbage. The rain was monotonous and, even with our fancy “waterproof” fabrics, we were soaked to the bone and hankerin’ for a warm drink. Cider with brandy was just the ticket. We went to the liquor store to pickup a bottle of Korbel brandy.

New Hampshire is one of those states that maintains state-owned liquor stores. Beer and wine can be sold at many venues, but if you want something stronger, you’ll have to head for the handful of state-owned liquor stores. Conveniently for us, the Hanover-area liquor store is next door to the COOP food store. Some poor souls must drive some distance (in the winter!) to get to a liquor store. This explains why ice fishing isn’t as popular here.

We encountered a problem at the liquor store. There was no Korbel Brandy. Anywhere. In all of New Hampshire. The NH Liquor and Wine Outlets’ list of available American Brandies. (Note the absence of Korbel Brandy.) This is a point of difference between Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

In Wisconsin, we call it “milk.”

In Wisconsin, Korbel gets its own aisle at Woodman’s grocery. (Note for New Hampshireans, Woodmans is like Dan & Whit’s gets hit with the gamma bomb that hit Bruce Banner to turn him into The Hulk. Only Woodman’s sells a ton of liquor and Dan & Whit’s can’t, per New Hampshire state law.) High consumption of Korbel brandy is tied to the Brandy Old Fashioned, sour, a regional cocktail that is as popular in Wisconsin as cheese curds and the Packers. An Old Fashioned is “a bar spoon of sugar, three dashes of Angostura bitters, a lightly muddled slice of orange, a slug of brandy, lots and lots of ice, a splash of soda and, of course, a bright red maraschino cherry, often with an extra dose of the fluorescent juice that they swim in.” Supposedly, Germans from Wisconsin got a taste of Korbel brandy at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and have been swigging it down ever since (Minnich 2006, p13).

We live in a state with no Korbel Brandy. This is uncomfortable. Like socks that are a size too large.

We bought a bottle of E&J California Brandy and had some hot cider with brandy. I haven’t tested an old-fashioned with it. It’s a little too horrific to contemplate.

We need to find us a bottle of Korbel Brandy. Then we will have a Wisconsin cocktail party and serve Brandy Old Fashioneds, kringle from Racine and one goddamn fabulous cheese board.

Note “NH” is not on the list.

How can we get some Korbel in New Hampshire? Maybe if our Wisconsin friends hear our pleas and will illegally ship us some Korbel Brandy. We can also venture across the river to Vermont and see if we’ll have any success at their liquor stores. Korbel maintains an online web store. But will only ship to a handful of states. We also have the ability to make a “request” for specific wines or liquors from the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, but we have to order at least a case.

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One thought on “Wisconsin and Korbel Brandy

  1. Drink locally?

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