Meet the Norwich bartender hoping to be crowned champion of a national cocktail competition

Gonzo's bartender Jackson Swallow with his cocktail called Jimmy Rustler, which has won him a place

Gonzo's bartender Jackson Swallow with his cocktail called Jimmy Rustler, which has won him a place in the regional finals of the Southern Comfort Southern Showdown competition. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A bartender from Norwich has managed to secure himself a place in the regional finals of the Southern Comfort Southern Showdown 2016, a competition that could see him win a dream trip to New Orleans.

Gonzo's bartender Jackson Swallow with his cocktail called Jimmy Rustler, which has won him a place

Gonzo's bartender Jackson Swallow with his cocktail called Jimmy Rustler, which has won him a place in the regional finals of the Southern Comfort Southern Showdown competition. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

When Jackson Swallow from Drayton Road, in Norwich, entered the Southern Showdown competition, run by drinks company Hi-Spirits, he never thought he'd actually stand a chance of making it through to the finals.

Despite his initial reservations, his cocktail creation - The Jimmy Rustler - impressed judges, and Jackson now finds himself preparing for the regional heats on Tuesday, October 11, where he could win a trip to New Orleans to compete in the grand final against five others.

The 20-year-old, who has been working as a bartender at Gonzo's Tea Room for just over a year, will have to assemble his drink in front of judges to show off his technique and ingredients, which include Southern Comfort, chilli liqueur, Tabasco sauce, bitters, lemon juice, maple syrup, egg whites and chocolate and chilli flakes.

He said: 'The brief for the Southern Showdown was to use Southern Comfort to make a drink that captures the charm of New Orleans. I assumed most people would make something quite classic, so I wanted to do something completely different and that's how I came up with The Jimmy Rustler which is a chocolate and chilli cocktail. To my knowledge no one has paired those flavours with Southern Comfort before so I thought it would be interesting to try.'


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He added: 'Southern Comfort is a highly reputable brand and a lot of other talented bartenders entered the competition so I didn't actually expect to get through, but making cocktails is what I love, I've been experimenting with drinks since I was nine, so it would mean absolutely everything to me to win a place in New Orleans and to feel respected as a bartender.'

• Jackson's competition cocktail, The Jimmy Rustler, is currently available at Gonzo's Tea Room on 68 London Street, Norwich.

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