Three judges (below) were in attendance to taste and score each cocktail, Ethan Enkera - Fine Drinks Movement (FDM) Educator, Gee David - South Trade National Training Manager and Hugh Robertson - Southern Comfort Brand Manager. Gee David acted brilliantly as MC to constantly stir up the crowd.
In the end, there could only be two finalists chosen to make their way to the finals at NOLA in Sydney on June 13.
The winners of the night represented a line-up of 'Girl Power' with Hannah Keirl (Rockpool) receiving an honorary mention and Genevieve Maladay (The Noble Experiment) and Hayley Dixon (Lily Blacks) as the two finalists.
Lastly, Hayley's story came from much closer to home, going to music festivals in the greenery of Tasmania. It was theatrically very impressive, housed in a geometric plant structure as a rainforest and with some fitting smoke effects.
Both of the talented finalists answered a few questions to gain insight into their motivation and passion for this exciting competition below.
Our Victorian finalists, Genevieve and Hayley (supplied)
What made you choose that certain travelling experience as your inspiration for your cocktail?
Genevieve: I chose my travelling experience, discovering strange soft drinks and trying to figure out what is in them, because it's one of my most amusing memories of my travels. But I think it's something a lot of people can relate to, I want my drink to spark memories of their own travels too.
Hayley: Music festivals have been a massive part of my life since I turned 16. I grew up in a small town with very little to do so so many of my best memories come from travelling up and down the coast to music festivals every weekend and a whole lot of sleeping under the stars and by a campfire. I didn't want to pretend I had been to New Orleans and try to make a drink based around that when I have had some of the best night's of my life in the deep, deep south of Australia, Tasmania.
What do you love about Southern Comfort?
Genevieve: Southern Comfort very exciting to be using at the moment because we are seeing some great changes in the brand, with the introduction of overproof Southern Comfort and soon, the return of whiskey as its base.
Hayley: I think almost anyone who grew up with me can tell you there is not much I do not love about Southern Comfort. I was even given the name Queen SoCo for a while. It definitely plays a major role in so many of my fondest memories and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little spoilt for choice for ideas when this competition was announced. I think this competition has also proven exactly what every bartender should love about Southern, it's versatility. I am yet to try an entry that I have not loved and yet every drink has been so incredibly different.
What attracts you about the ultimate prize, an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans?
Genevieve: The ultimate prize is great, who wouldn't love to go to Tales of the Cocktail? I'd love to go to New Orleans, but I'm elated to have my drink make it as far as Sydney.
Hayley: I am sure it won't surprise anyone that as a bartender I am not sending myself overseas every year. In our industry, we work 60 hour weeks just so we can order Uber eats for dinner instead of have to cook at 4am. Tales of the Cocktail is something I have been dying to experience for a few years and as a cocktail competition prize, I can't think of many that would be better.
With Melbourne's diverse culture, it's no surprise that the bartending scene is full of creative and enthusiastic mixologists. We can only hope that one of these girls will be the lucky winner of the entire competition as a Melbourne representative!
If you've never heard of Southern Comfort before, find out more about them here.
Take a look at some more snaps from the night below, including the special effects of Hayley's creation: