Costa Rica wins seventh Licor 43 Bartenders & Baristas Challenge

Gabriela Wong from La Esquina de Buenos Aires in Costa Rica has been crowned champion at the 2023 Licor 43 Bartenders & Baristas Challenge, after the final in Madrid this week.

For this seventh edition, Licor 43 called on coffee and cocktail professionals around the world to showcase their expertise and imagination in pairing Licor 43 and coffee. 

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.”

Finalists from Germany, Mexico, the US, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Estonia, Peru and Costa Rica gathered in Madrid for a two-day immersion in the cocktails, coffee and culture of the brand’s home country.  

After a coffee workshop with head judge Merijn Gijsbers, a ‘mystery box’ cocktail challenge and a paella and tortilla workshop, Wong was crowned winner with ‘Capital Vice’, a cocktail inspired by the seven sins.

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

The 2023 judging panel was headed up by international barista champion Merijn Gijsbers, who has worked with the competition since 2019, joined by Spaniard Benabeu and last year’s winner Yefferson Avila.  

Wong will receive a bursary to put towards professional equipment and career development courses, their 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.