American liquor brand Southern Comfort threw a New Orleans-themed bash in honour of their Travelling Tales cocktail competition. Barangaroo restaurant NOLA Smokehouse & Bar hosted a crowd of attendees eager to find out who would win the Travelling Tales comp — and jet off to New Orleans.
The Southern Comfort Travelling Tales Cocktail Competition is first hosted in Australia. 10 bartenders from around the country gathered to showcase their concoctions, and the tales of travel that inspired them, in front of a panel of judges. Meanwhile, attendees — a mixture of hospo staff and media — enjoyed endless Cajun and Creole food and cocktails made with SoCo.
New Orleans is one of my favourite cities (highly recommend doing Dr. Gumbo’s culinary walking tour if you go). Finding out that Sydney has an authentic New Orleans restaurant, NOLA Smokehouse & Bar, made my heart sing. Handed a Hurricane — N’awlins’ signature cocktail — upon entry, I knew we were in for a great night.
The bartenders took turns demonstrating their mixology skills in front of the judging panel: SouthTrade International National Training Manager Gee David, Time Out Alcohol Lead Martin Barrett, Australian Bartender Magazine Editor Sam Bygrave, and Bespoke Drinks consultant Ben Davidson. (With a male MC, it was a 100% male event in front of the bar. If Travelling Tales returns next year, one hopes they will ensure a 50/50 gender split in their judges, reflecting that women are involved in hospitality as well.)
Indeed, half of the prizes were taken by women. People’s Choice Award was won by Emma Burns from the The Clock Hotel here in Sydney for her floral-inspired Shoreditch Sazzy. Third place winner was Hayley Dixon from Lily Blacks in Melbourne, with a mini-rainforest cocktail Rattle and Hum. Ryan Lane from The Gresham in Queensland took second place for his coffee creation, LaLaurie Zoom.
The ultimate winner from the night: Jacob Cohen from Three Wolves in Cairns, creator of The Bootlegger. Mixing Southern Comfort with pale ale, honey, Aperol and lemon juice, he was inspired by his grandfather (a bootlegger in the 192os. Yes, really!). Jacob’s grandpa apparently told him: ‘There are few sweeter things in this life than the tantalising combination of Southern Comfort and beer’.
With beads around my neck, stuffed full of Cajun fried chicken (aka ‘Blackened Voodoo wings’) and Hurricanes, guests got a taste of New Orleans without leaving home. Make sure to have a look for a Southern Comfort-inspired cocktail the next time you visit one of the winners’ bars.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa can’t wait for another trip to NOLA (both the restaurant and the city). Follow her Instagram adventures.
Visit www.southerntalesau.southerncomfort.com for more info on the Southern Comfort Travelling Tales cocktail competition.