Leeds-based Lee Jones from Smokestack has won the Southern Comfort Southern Showdown 2018, which was battled on board the Dixie Queen, a New Orleans-style riverboat cruising down London’s Thames.
Jones’ winning cocktail, the Whitesmith Cobbler, was crowned after the six winners of UK regional heats presented their drinks to a panel of industry judges.
The fight isn’t over yet though. Jones will now compete against Southern Showdown winners from Ireland and Australia in July at the international final in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail.
‘The contest involved a lot of hard work, both in creating the cocktail and making it for the judges at the final,’ said Jones. ‘I’m delighted and surprised to have won against such great competition, and looking forward to the international final in New Orleans.’
He won’t be without some home support however, as runners up Sarah Berardi of Draffens, Dundee, who came second, and Thomas Hay-Owens of Seaside Boarding House, Dorset, who placed third will be joining Jones in New Orleans.
By Lee Jones
Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: dehydrated lemon
Method: stir over ice and strain.
40ml Southern Comfort 100 Proof
20ml Absentroux herbal wine
20ml gooseberry cordial
1 dash champagne acid
Bartenders this year were challenged to recreate the spirit of their home town in a cocktail, inspired by Southern Comfort’s relationship with New Orleans. Cocktails were required to include the classic 35% abv Southern Comfort Original, the newly launched 40% abv Southern Comfort Black, or the on-trade only 50% abv Southern Comfort 100 Proof.
‘All the finalists showed a huge amount of flair, knowledge and imagination. There was real debate among the judges, but we agreed that Lee gave the best all-round performance, from his product knowledge and presentation right through to serving a great cocktail,’ said Julian De Feral, drinks director of consultancy Gorgeous Group and chair of the judges.
The judges also included Nicole Sykes, the 2017 Southern Showdown winner and bartender at Satan’s Whiskers, and Tom Hodgkiss, national accounts manager with Southern Comfort distributor Hi-Spirits.