Interview: in conversation with Southern Comfort’s national cocktail champion Jacob Cohen

Cairns bartender Jacob Cohen has recently won the Southern Comfort Traveling Tales cocktail competition. It consisted of numerous rounds around the nation before the Finals held at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar in Barangaroo, Sydney. Jacob has a chat to us before he sets off to New Orleans to experience his first-place prize as well as the story and ingredients behind his winning cocktail – The Bootlegger.

How have you been since winning the competition? How did you feel that night? 

Things have been crazy since winning the competition, especially since going back to work as everyone’s been congratulating me, I feel so lucky to have such an amazing support network here in Cairns.

Being crowned the winner was such a rush; it was one of the best feelings of my life!

I did have a bit of a celebration with the other competitors but couldn’t go too crazy as I had to get on a plane the next day and nobody wants a hangover on a flight.

The winner: The Bootlegger by Jacob Cohen

Can you tell me about the back story and how long it took you to craft and create?

The cocktail was inspired by tales my Great Grandfather told me about the bootleggers in 1920s America and how they would would smuggle liquor and beer in their boots during prohibition in New Orleans.

From experimenting to completion it probably took a week of long hours to perfect. Even after that I had to practice my delivery multiple times to make sure I got it right.

What are you hoping to experience and learn in New Orleans? Have you been before? What have you got planned for your trip?

I’m just hoping to meet like minded people and learn as much as possible while I’m there. I haven’t been to New Orleans before but am very much looking forward to it. I have a full scheduled week of tours and appearances which I can’t wait for!

Your winning cocktail paired Southern Comfort with beer – have you got any other unique pairings, whether it’s for Southern Comfort or other spirits that are surprising, yet work well that our readers would find intriguing?

There are endless combinations for a product such as Southern Comfort, however some combos I find interesting and delicious are Southern Comfort and Pandan or Wattleseed. I have so many pairings that I make regularly, as well as some still to be discovered. I’d love for people to come and see me at Three Wolves to try some of my creations!

What does Southern Comfort mean to you?

At the moment, I don’t think Southern Comfort is being used to it’s full potential. I intend to change that by showing people how great it is through my cocktail creations. It’s adaptability is just one of the reasons I love it.

Jacob works behind the bar at Three Wolves in Cairns and you can find out more about the bar by clicking HERE.