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Licor 43 crowns 2023 competition winner

Spanish liqueur Licor 43 has named Gabriela Wong Arias from Costa Rica the winner of this year’s Bartenders and Baristas Challenge.

Gabriela Wong Arias, the winner of the Licor 43 Bartenders and Baristas Challenge in Madrid
Gabriela Wong Arias won the Bartenders and Baristas Challenge in Madrid

Wong Arias, from La Esquina de Buenos Aires bar, beat eight other competitors at the final in Madrid this week (16-19 October).

The seventh edition of the competition saw bartenders from around the world pair Licor 43 with coffee.

Bartenders from nine countries participated in this year’s challenge: Germany, Mexico, the US, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Estonia, Peru and Costa Rica.

Participants took part in a coffee workshop with head judge Merijn Gijsbers, a ‘mystery box’ cocktail challenge and a paella and tortilla workshop.

Wong Arias’ winning cocktail, named Capital Vice, was inspired by the seven deadly sins.

The serve combined 45ml Licor 43 Original, 30ml brandy, 60ml pineapple cordial and 130ml nutmeg and cardamom cold brew.

The final was hosted by Gavin Wrigley, head of education at the European Bartender School.

The runners-up were Esau Jiménez from The Boss Speakeasy in Morelia Michoacán, México, with a Gentleman cocktail, and Joe Arakawa from Anima in Las Vegas, the US, with Dawn Patrol.

Gijsbers was supported on the judging panel by cocktail influencer Spaniard Bernabeu and last year’s winner Yefferson Avila.

Wong Arias received a €3,000 (US$3,170) bursary to put towards professional equipment and training. She will have a place on next year’s judging panel and will also become the Licor 43 coffee master for 2024, appearing with the brand at key international shows.

Licor 43’s global brand director, Oliver Svatek, said: “Our B&B challenge really does go from strength to strength every year, as does the quality of people entering. Challenge is the right word when it comes to cocktail creativity with Licor 43 and coffee.

“Madrid is one of the – if not the – most important cities in Spain for mixology, plus gastronomy, art and entertainment. The past four days of living and breathing the Spanish culture, which is so intrinsic to Licor 43 as the liqueur brand of Spain, has been fascinating.”

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