Smokestack barman wins big at Southern Comfort cocktail competition

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

UK winner: Lee Jones from Smokestack, Leeds, wins the Southern Showdown
UK winner: Lee Jones from Smokestack, Leeds, wins the Southern Showdown

Related tags: Cocktail, Southern comfort, Whisky, Spirits

Smokestack barman Lee Jones was applauded to victory last night as he beat five other bartenders to become the UK winner of Southern Comfort’s Southern Showdown.

The cocktail competition, held on the Thames paddle steamer the Dixie Queen last night (21 May), saw three bartenders win trips to the United States for the whiskey brand’s international finals later this year.

As the Southern Showdown UK winner, Jones will compete in the global round of the competition in New Orleans, while fellow competitors Sarah Kathryn Berardi (second place) and Thomas Owens (third place) will attend in support of the champion.

Whitesmith Cobbler cocktail

Jones’s winning Whitesmith Cobbler cocktail, which represented his region of the north, was made using Southern Comfort 100, Absentroux, gooseberry cordial and a dash of Champagne acid. The drink, which balanced acidic and sweet flavours, was served in a Nick & Nora Coupette with a dehydrated lemon garnish.

The six contenders were:

  • Thomas Hay-Owens – the Seaside Boarding House, Burton Bradstock, Dorset
  • Charley Carrington – Last Chance Cocktail & Whiskey Bar, Nottingham
  • Giacomo Brunelli – Scarfes Bar, Holburn, Central London
  • Thom Solberg – Black Rock, Shoreditch, East London
  • Lee Jones – Smokestack, Leeds
  • Sarah Kathryn Berardi – Draffens, Dundee, East Scotland

Each of the bartenders' cocktails had to include one of Southern Comfort’s three variants – Original, Black or 100.

They were also encouraged to use bespoke and local ingredients in their recipes to recreate the spirit of their hometown or region.

Prior to the competition, brand owner Hi-Spirits managing director Dan Bolton said: “The Southern Showdown is bigger and better than ever this year.

‘Imagination, knowledge and flair’

“The imagination, knowledge and flair shown by our finalists in the first two years [of the competition] was amazing, and with the stakes even higher this year, we’re expecting it to hit new heights.”

Entries for the regional competition closed in March, before the finalists competed to become regional champions. The winners were then invited to recreate their cocktails in the Southern Showdown in London.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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