We were treated to some killer cocktails on Tuesday 9th May when New Orleans-inspired craft beer and whiskey bar NOLA hosted the Southern Comfort Travelling Tales Cocktail Competition State Final.
Representatives from some of Adelaide’s premier venues — and one from Darwin’s Skycity Casino — showcased their own SoCo-based concoctions for a panel of three expert judges in front of a handsome crowd in NOLA’s upstairs saloon.
The nine finalists battled it out for a trip to Sydney to compete in the Travelling Tales National Finals, where the grand prize is a trip to New Orleans for the world’s premier cocktail festival, “Tales of the Cocktail”.
One by one, each contestant had 10 minutes to mix and deliver his or her masterpiece and regale the story of its genesis before the judges ultimately determined the two winners.
We onlookers were supplied with some of NOLA’s finest New Orleans cuisine, as well as a selection of three classic, SoCo-inspired cocktails as we watched the art of bartending at its most creative.
The artisans pulled out all stops with their magnificent conceptions; there were infusions of rosemary, ginger root, maple syrup, rye — and that was just one cocktail — and even a whole egg at one point.
It was, in the end, an excruciating decision for the judges with such experimentation, originality and imagination poured into each cocktail.
Gregory Perrot, from Darwin’s Skycity Casino, was announced as the first winner for his ‘Southern Comfort Hot Toddy’ – a fruity, Earl Grey tea-infused winter warmer with honey, cinnamon and lemon juice.
Perrot’s delicacy was born out of his wife’s love of hearty, winter-inspired cocktails, with the Hot Toddy designed to keep the chill out on a cold winter’s eve.
NOLA’s own Dan Wall kept it very simple with his winning potion; with the ‘Saving Grace’, he took us on a journey back to his time spent in northern Sweden.
With Buffalo Trace, apple puree and lime juice, garnished with dried apple and burnt cassia bark, Wall’s Southern Comfort cocktail told of days he spent in front of an open wood fire on lake Siljian, listening to Jeff Buckley.
Each cocktail told a story about its maker, and each story was equally romantic, nostalgic and captivating.
We have an amazing crop of bartending talent here in Adelaide and a small bar culture that is only growing in stature. To see it in action at a venue that is one of Adelaide’s best-kept secrets was truly awe-inspiring.