Searching for the Spirit of M.W Heron…

In New Orleans there’s a party on every street, a story behind every door and a mischievous smile inviting you to be a part of it all. So, we’re asking bartenders to create a signature serve, that tastes great, is replicable and tells a great story.

  • The best cocktails will be shortlisted by regions and the top two from each will be invited to join in the Bartenders Challenge.
  • Hosted at the Hi-Spirits bar, the day will consist of a series of challenges designed to test all aspects of bartending where the four grand finalists will be selected.
  • The finalists will then go head-to-head at the Southern Showdown Grand Final, showcasing their entry to fellow bartenders and industry legends for their chance to win one of two places on a trip to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

Judging Criteria


  • Originality (20 points)
  • Taste (40 points)
  • Name & Story (10 points)
  • Appearance (10 points)
  • Scalability* (20 points)
*It needs to be replicable for anywhere up to 300 drinks in one night, think large scale batching and consistency.


The details of the tasks will remain top secret until the day of the event. However they will be used to test on all aspects of bartending including hosting, knowledge, composure, creativity and speed. We are searching for the complete bartender, this is not just about that one drink.


Onboard the Dixie Queen the four finalists will be given the opportunity to showcase their signature cocktail entry across one of the four popup bars. They will each own these spaces and it will be a chance to truly demonstrate their overall skills as a bartender.

Southern Showdown Champion

A panel of leading industry experts will score on:

  • Taste (50 points)
  • Speed / Efficiency (15 points)
  • Hospitality (20 points)
  • Presentation / Appearance (15 points)

The People’s Champion

  • As voted for aboard the Dixie Queen – Everyone in attendance will be encouraged to try each of the four drinks and before the end of the night vote for their favourite drink in a secret ballot.

The Grand Prize

A trip of a lifetime to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail allocated to:

  • The Showdown Winner – As selected by key industry judges
  • The People’s Champion – As voted by the attendees on the Dixie Queen


  • Return flights to New Orleans, USA
  • 4-Star Accommodation
  • Tickets to Tales of The Cocktail
  • Swamp Tour
  • Cocktail Tour

Southern Showdown 2019 Entry Form


Entry Period

1st February – 31st March

Shortlist Announced

8th April

Bartenders Challenge

29th April

Grand Finalists Announced

29th April

Dixie Queen Grand Final

May 2019

Winners Trip

July 2019