Southern Comfort 100 Proof sets sail

Southern Comfort 100 Proof was launched to the UK trade yesterday at the final of the brand’s 2017 Southern Showdown cocktail competition in London.

The new expression, which rolls out this month in the UK and Ireland, has been released in conjunction with a packaging overhaul – inclucing new labels and positioning.

The Spirit of New Orleans slogan is a nod to the brand’s 140-plus-years connection to the American city, an affiliation built upon by revamped label designs.

The 2017 Southern Showdown Competition, held on board the Dixie Queen paddle steamer on the River Thames, challenged bartenders to create a Southern Comfort cocktail taking inspiration from the brand’s New Orleans heritage.

The final was the culmination of a process that saw 150 cocktails entered. The entries were then whittled down to six regional finalists who competed in the final in London.

The winner for 2017 was Nicole Sykes of the Voyage of Buck, Edinburgh, with her cocktail ‘Off the Cuff’.

Sykes said: “I’m delighted to have won against some very strong contenders. My cocktail is a twist on the classic Vieux Carré, which was created in 1938 in New Orleans by a bartender named Walter Bergeron. The name is French for Old Square, which is how the famous French Quarter of New Orleans is also known.

“My cocktail is inspired by the French Quarter nightlife and the laid-back lifestyle in the city, and the name, Off the Cuff, comes from the original name of Southern Comfort, Cuffs and Buttons.

Second place went to Ashton Williamson of Little Bat Bar, Islington with ‘813 Bienville’,  while third place to David Langley of Last Chance Saloon, Nottingham with ‘Fleur De Lis’.

Calum Adams of Barlounge, Chester competed with ‘Spirit Of Adventure’, Rob Wood of Smultronställe, Birmingham with ‘Bananas Fosters’ and David White of The Dead Parrot, Horsham, with ‘Home on the Mississippi’.

All finalists won a VIP trip to New Orleans.

Amanda McLeod, marketing director of Hi-Spirits added: “We’re very excited to bring The Spirit of New Orleans to the UK with the Southern Showdown Grand Final. It is great to see the bartending community come together and celebrate Southern Comfort being taken back to its roots.

"The standard of entries to our cocktail competition this year was outstanding and we know the judges had a tough job picking the winners.”