Why Your New Favorite Tomato Soup Recipe Calls for Bourbon

A delicious example of two rights making a right

A bowl of tomato soup with a drizzle of white cream. Slices of grilled cheese are on a plate around the soup.

Photo: Andrew Cebulka

At Prohibition, the tomato-bourbon soup is finished with drizzles of black truffle crème fraîche, but home cooks can use crème fraîche or sour cream (or leave it plain).

By night, Prohibition is a popular cocktail bar in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. By day and evening it’s an intimate restaurant serving upscale Southern classics like crab-stuffed deviled eggs, hanger steak with collard green kimchi, and one menu item that recently caught our attention: tomato soup with a splash of Maker’s Mark.

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The dish is part of a newly revamped menu that embraces “simple, craveable foods,” according to chef Greg Garrison. Tomato soup and bourbon are definitely craveable—but together?

“By adding bourbon, we were able to add a subtle complexity while maintaining the simplicity,” Garrison explains. “The bourbon adds a slight smoky flavor that complements the sweet and tart elements in the soup, while also making it a better pairing option for someone enjoying the same spirit.” 

Garrison shared the recipe with G&G, and this home cook can vouch that he’s exactly right. The bourbon is just barely detectable, softening the soup’s sharp edges in the best way. I can also report that my two kids, generally harsh critics, each enjoyed a cup (and didn’t sleep any better or worse for it). Naturally, my family did as Garrison—and any civilized person—does and served it alongside grilled cheese.


  • TOMATO-BOURBON SOUP (Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

    • 3 tbsp. butter, unsalted

    • 1 large onion, peeled and diced

    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

    • ¼ cup bourbon

    • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid

    • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

    • 1 cup water

    • 1 cup heavy cream

    • 1 tbsp. salt

    • ¼ tbsp. sugar


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add bourbon and allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Add whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and water, using water to rinse out all tomatoes from the cans. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot. Cook for 30 minutes.

  3. Add cream, salt, and sugar. Stir. 

  4. Remove from heat. Blend mixture in batches until smooth. Serve warm.