In June 2017, rookie Jacob Cohen of Cairns took out the first ever Southern Comfort Travelling Tales cocktail competition. For those who don't know Southern Comfort (where have you been???), it's a whisky based liqueur flavoured with fruits and spices (like most liqueurs, the exact recipe is a secret).
Beating some bar veterans to the title, Jacob won judges over with his cocktail called the Bootlegger, which was inspired by tales from his grandfather’s bootlegger days in America in the 1920s. His prize? A trip to New Orleans for the Tales of the Cocktail bar festival in July 2017. Ahead of his trip, Jacob took some time out to answer a few questions for us!
How long have you been bartending and what got you into it?
I've been bartending for just under two years now and it started out as something to get me through university but it has exploded into what has proven to be one of the great loves of my life! You can find me bartending these days at the Three Wolves in Cairns.
Talk us through your process for coming up with your Southern Comfort entry – the inspiration, and why you chose the different components that you did in putting together the cocktail.
The inspiration comes from tales my great grandfather used to tell me about prohibition in the United States, he would tell me stories about the bootleggers who would smuggle liquor and beer in their large boots. There was a specific quote he shared with me where he said, "There are few sweeter things in this life than the tantalising combination of Southern Comfort and beer." This inspired me to incorporate beer into the cocktail, so I used that as the base and went on from there matching flavour profiles to Southern Comfort.
How many experiments did you have before you settled on your winning entry? Did anything NOT work in particular?
This drink stemmed from quite a broad idea so there were a number of experiments that unfortunately did not work, for example I had a drink which had a quince jam and sloe berries and that was a great drink on paper but I just couldn't get it to work, thankfully though I came up with the right combination enough to get me the win!
What is the weirdest cocktail you have ever made or been asked to make?
I can't remember what the guy called it but I'll never forget the ingredients! It's equal parts vodka, green chartreuse, tomato juice, beer and Campari. (Ed: this is definitely NOT a cocktail we'll be recreating)
What’s the one cocktail you think everyone should drink more of and why?
Too easy! A classic daiquiri It's so simple and so well balanced. Rum, lime and sugar! It's so under-utilised in higher end cocktail bars these days and I'd love to see a comeback.
Wonder what's in Jacob's winning entry? Here's what's in it:
- 60ml Southern Comfort
- 25ml NOLA rebirth Pale Ale/Aperol/honey reduction
- 20ml lemon juice
- 1 barspoon saline solution (5pt salt/1pt pepper)
- Add all ingredients to shaker.
- Add ice. Shake.
- Double strain into chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with hop flowers pegged