The Southern Comfort Southern Showdown cocktail competition becomes an international battle of the bartenders in 2018, with winners from the UK, Ireland and Australia set to compete in a New Orleans final later this year.

With the Southern Showdown now in its third year in the UK, bartenders are being challenged this year to recreate the spirit of their home town in a cocktail, just as Southern Comfort captures the spirit of its home city, New Orleans.

Each cocktail will need to include the bartender’s choice of either Southern Comfort Original, Southern Comfort Black or Southern Comfort 100. In the spirit of Southern Comfort’s creator, New Orleans bartender M.W. Heron, entrants are also encouraged to use bespoke and local ingredients in their recipe.

Distributor Hi-Spirits will hold six Showdown Regional Finals in April and May. Entries will be judged based on the uniqueness, imagination and consumer appeal of each cocktail, with eight cocktails showcased in each regional final, taking place in Scotland, the North, Midlands, South Coast, London West, London East.

The winner from each region will compete head-to-head at the Southern Showdown National Final in May, held in true Mississippi style on the Dixie Queen riverboat on the Thames.

The national winner and two runnersup will win a VIP trip in July to New Orleans, the spiritual home of the cocktail, including tickets to the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail event. While in New Orleans the UK winner will also take on their Irish and Australian counterparts in a Grand Finale.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “The Southern Showdown is bigger and better than ever this year. The imagination, knowledge and flair shown by our finalists in the first two years was amazing, and with the stakes even higher this year we’re expecting to hit new heights.

“The fact that entrants now have the choice of both Southern Comfort Black and Southern Comfort 100 alongside Southern Comfort Original gives them a wider range of flavour profiles to work with.”

The closing date for initial entries for each region is 30 March. Entries can be submitted online at https://southernshowdown.southerncomfort.com/uk/ where full terms and conditions are also available.