The Southern Comfort Southern Showdown took to the Thames yesterday for the UK grand final, with six bartenders from around the country competing aboard the Dixie Queen for the chance to win a trip to New Orleans.
Scotland’s representative, Nicole Sykes from The Voyage of Buck in Edinburgh, took top spot with her Off The Cuff cocktail, combining Southern Comfort with Sazerac Rye, Branca Menta, Peychaud’s Bitters and Ardbeg in a tall serve. The drink was a take on the Vieux Carré, and named in reference to Southern Comfort’s original name, Cuffs and Buttons.
In second place was Ashton Williamson from London’s Little Bat, with his 813 Bienville, matching Southern Comfort with Antica Formula, Peychaud’s Bitters, and a mint, lime and passion fruit sherbet. Third place went to David Langley from Last Chance Saloon in Nottingham, combining lemon juice, pink grapefruit and orgeat with Southern Comfort to create his Fleur de Lis cocktail. The other three finalists were Calum Adams from Barlounge in Chester, Rob Wood from Smultronställe in Birmingham and David White from The Dead Parrot in Horsham.
Competitors were tasked with creating a signature drink inspired by New Orleans, judged on creativity, replicability and more.
Winners were revealed in front of the assembled audience aboard the boat, before the surprise announcement that not only the top three, but all six finalists would be headed to New Orleans in September. Wild card winner for social media, Thomas Hay-Owens of Tom’s Champagne Bar in Manchester, will also be joining the crew in the Crescent City.
The event also marked the launch of the new Southern Comfort 100, the brand’s 50% abv incarnation.