Repeal Day And An Old Fashioned Face Off!

To celebrate the repeal of prohibition we joined Old Forester for their Old Fashioned Face-Off bartender competition. Taking place at West Loop’s Moonlight Studios this year’s celebration was packed with Bourbon enthusiasts and some of the cities most interesting bartenders. The event was an opportunity to sample over a dozen craft cocktails from Chicago’s hippest and most creative mixologists.


5 things to know about prohibition:

  • Prohibition ran from 1920 to 1933 under the 18th Amendment
  • President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the act but was overruled by Congress
  • Organized crime skyrocketed by 24%. Al Capone led the charge in Chicago
  • Six distilleries continued to operate during prohibition selling medicinal whiskey
  • Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 with passage of the 21st Amendment


We arrived to be greeted by a doorman dressed in a period perfect trenchcoat and fedora hat. In a hushed voice he asked for our password then hurried us in while keeping an eye out for prohibition agents. Once inside we got a menu from the friendly flapper girls and headed in to enjoy the 20’s inspired Jazz and Dance music complete with a trumpet player on the catwalk.

The concept of the event was a competition among Chicago bartenders. Thirteen bartenders competed by crafting their own signature Old Forester Bourbon based cocktail. Guests floated among the “mini bars” sampling each looking for their favorite! Old Forester had their own opulent booth setup serving full-sized cocktails.

There were 3 winners chosen from the 13 bartenders in the competition. In my opinion the guests were the real winners. Personally I sampled every cocktail at least once and can attest they were each unique and a spectacular use of Bourbon!



*A trip for two to Louisville to tour the Brown-Forman cooperage and spend time one-on-one with Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Bourbon Specialist.


All competitors recipes are available here – http://il.oldfashionedfaceoff.com/vote


Check out the image gallery below to follow along as we sampled all of the cocktails:

Speakeasy doorman

Welcome flappers!

Ergys Dizdari making 'The (fo)rever Old' with Old Forester 1897 Bourbon.

'The (fo)rever old' made with Old Forester 1897.  Cocktail by Ergys Dizdari.

Dustin Drankiewicz crafting the 'Island Old Fashioned'. Made with Honey-Dem syrup and coffee bitters.

Dustin Drankiewicz's Island Old Fashioned.

Ben Burkhart peeling a lemon for his 'Bro'd Fashion'. Made with Zombie Dust syrup!

Ben Burkhart's 'The Bro'd Fashion'.

The Dawson's Aaron Pollack working on 'The Olde Dinghy'. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style.

'The Olde Dinghy' complete with a dehydrated Grapefruit Rose garnish.

The full menu of competitors and their cocktails.

Three Old Forester created cocktails available at the Old Forester booth.

A couple bartenders having fun at the Old Forester booth.

A bartender shaking us an Old Fashioned!

The jazz band playing from the rafters.

A lineup of Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style bottles.

Julia Momose spraying L'Authentique Jacoulot Marc de Bourgogne Brandy through the flame of a match to aromatize her 'Signature Fashion' cocktail.

Scott LoBianco holding his 'Old Fashioned Traveler'. Made with Old Forester 1870 and Sesame Oil bitters.

Kevin Beary's 'Usual Suspects'. Old Forester 1870 and Hamilton's Jamaican Gold Rum.

'Usual Suspects' by Kevin Beary.

Josh Gittemeier using a high pour to create the 'Taiwan On'.

'Cheers for Fears' garnishes. By Carley Gaskin.

One of many antique Old Forester decanters on display.


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