The Southern Comfort Southern Showdown
Southern Comfort are bringing back their ‘Southern Showdown’ for the third year running. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience what is considered one of the birthplaces of the cocktail and true hospitality, attending The Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans.
Now, whilst I am sure many of us are familiar with the flavour of the Original, I wonder if many bartenders know of its unique beginnings;
In 1874, M.W. Heron, a notable bartender based in New Orleans started combining American Whiskey, fruits and spices together into something that has since been dubbed ‘The Grand Ole’ Drink of the South’; Whiskey coming down the Mississippi, fruits and spices landing in one of the busiest ports in the Southern States. It was a match made in heaven.
Heron knew his audience well, calling the original ‘Cuffs & Buttons’, appealing to the noble drinkers of area. It became so popular that, in the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair it won a gold medal for its quality. (Think of the St Louis World’s fair like Imbibe, but lasting from April to December.)
Inspired by the talents of Heron, Southern Comfort now has 3 varieties in the UK; Orginal, Black and 100. All of which opening up a unique quality within the liquids.
It’s this reputation for quality, hospitality and uniqueness that Southern Comfort are looking to inspire with the Southern Showdown competition. Chatting with last years winner Lee Jones from Smokestack in Leeds he had this to say…
To be in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail, representing the UK for the Southern Comfort Final, is about as close to the essence of hospitality as you can get. You spend your time talking to every local you bump into to, meeting passionate individuals from all of the world who want nothing more than to celebrate the careers we’ve all chosen. I’m incredibly proud to have won, to be bringing any bit of attention to Northern bartenders in the UK – there is so much talent out there waiting to be found.
Check out Lee’s collection of cat pics on instagram - https://www.instagram.com/leepobar/
What y’all need to know…
IN NEW ORLEANS THERE’S A PARTY ON EVERY STREET, A STORY BEHIND EVERY DOOR AND A MISCHIEVOUS SMILE INVITING YOU TO BE A PART OF IT ALL. SO, WE’RE ASKING BARTENDERS TO CREATE A SIGNATURE SERVE, THAT TASTES GREAT, IS REPLICABLE AND TELLS A GREAT STORY.
The best cocktails will be shortlisted by regions and the top two (12 in total) from each will be invited to join in the Bartenders Challenge.
Hosted at the Hi-Spirits bar, the day will consist of a series of challenges designed to test all aspects of bartending where the four grand finalists will be selected.
The 4 finalists will then go head-to-head aboard the Dixie Queen for the Southern Showdown Grand Final, showcasing their entry to fellow bartenders and industry legends for their chance to win one of two places on a trip to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.
Dates to put in your diary
ENTRY PERIOD 1st February – 31st March
SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED 15th April
BARTENDERS CHALLENGE 8th May
FINALISTS ANNOUNCED 8th May
DIXIE QUEEN GRAND FINAL 10th June
WINNERS TRIP July 2019
The Judging Criteria
ONLINE ENTRY (TOTAL 100 POINTS)
Originality (20 points)
Taste (40 points)
Name & Story (10 points)
Appearance (10 points)
Scalability* (20 points)
THE BARTENDERS CHALLENGE
The details of the tasks will remain top secret until the day of the event. However they will be used to test on all aspects of bartending including hosting, knowledge, composure, creativity and speed. We are searching for the complete bartender, this is not just about that one drink.
*It needs to be replicable for anywhere up to 300 drinks in one night, think large scale batching and consistency
THE GRAND FINAL (TOTAL 100 POINTS)
Onboard the Dixie Queen the four finalists will be given the opportunity to showcase their signature cocktail entry across one of the four popup bars. They will each own these spaces and it will be a chance to truly demonstrate their overall skills as a bartender.
SOUTHERN SHOWDOWN CHAMPION
A panel of leading industry experts will score on:
Taste (50 points)
Speed / Efficiency (15 points)
Hospitality (20 points)
Presentation / Appearance (15 points)
THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION
As voted for aboard the Dixie Queen – Everyone in attendance will be encouraged to try each of the four drinks and before the end of the night vote for their favourite drink in a secret ballot.
THE GRAND PRIZE
A trip of a lifetime to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail allocated to:
The Showdown Winner – As selected by key industry judges
The People’s Champion – As voted by the attendees on the Dixie Queen
Return flights to New Orleans, USA
Tickets to Tales of The Cocktail
Notes & Reference:
Details on Tales of the Cocktail can be found here clicking this link
Pictures used with consent.
History of Southern Comfort from writers own knowledge so feel free to correct us if we got something wrong.