BOURBON COCKTAIL: Tobacco Old Fashioned

With a history long enough to have entire books devoted to it, The Old Fashioned is a deceptively simple drink to execute with results that hinge on both the quality of the ingredients and the build. We are very partial to our Red Corn Old Fashioned, of course, but we kept hearing about the Tobacco Old Fashioned at one of our favorite neighborhood bars, the Long Room on Irving Park in North Center. Well before our first bourbon went into bottles, Collin and Elise were playing monthly residencies with Big Sadie in their welcoming, TV-free community gathering space.  

Over its 24-year history, Long Room owner Jason Burrell and partner Jeff Larsen have developed and refined its offerings, first focusing on craft beer and then, with the help of bartender Ryan Rezvani, a more robust cocktail program. With careful attention to detail, Long Room has built a wonderfully diverse, affordable drinks program without alienating its clientele…which any bar owner can tell you is no easy task. We were thrilled when asked to add our whiskeys to their lineup.

Many of Rezvani’s Long Room cocktails call for particular bitters, and this one is no exception. Along with his ex-romantic partner, Stephanie Andrews, Rezvani makes his bitters under the Bitter Ex label. After offering to design a cocktail for a friend’s wedding reminiscent of an Old Fashioned he’d had on vacation with tobacco bitters, he developed the recipe for their ‘I Can’t Quit You’ bitters. The bitters have a base of Lapsang Souchong tea combined with other aromatics like yerba matte and dried cherries to recreate the smell of pipe tobacco. There’s no actual tobacco in the bitters, as they can be toxic in the wrong proportions.  “You’d hurt somebody,” Rezvani laughs. 

The drink was on the menu at Long Room for a brief time, using up the leftover wedding bitters. It was a hit, and after a year of regular requests for its return, he permanently added the bitters to the Bitter Ex line. This cocktail is based on Long Room’s standard old-fashioned, which uses both aromatic & citrus bitters. Of course, it’s the tobacco bitters that make this drink smolder. Try it at Long Room, and spring for the upgrade to our Red Corn Bourbon as a base. You won’t regret it.

3 oz Judson & Moore Bourbon Whiskey
¼ oz of rich Demerara syrup (2:1 Sugar to Water)
4-5 dashes of Bitter Ex "I Will Survive" citrus bitters
8-9 dashes of Bitter Ex "Can't Quit You" tobacco bitters

Stir/strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Tags: recipes