Licor 43 Bartenders and Baristas Challenge 2019 image 1

Licor 43 Bartenders and Baristas Challenge 2019

The world's first competition to team up bartenders with baristas and challenge them to use their combined skills and knowledge to create cocktails combining Licor 43 and coffee, a combination inspired by the runaway success of the Carajillo in Mexico, a serve which shows how well the sweet delicately spiced vanilla notes of Licor 43 combine with bitter coffee as a flavour match.

This is the second year I've judged this global final and once again I was struck by how the skills of bartenders and baristas meet in the quest for flavour and balance. Dilution, fruit, bitterness and sweetness are all important to both professions and this competition brings these together as bartenders and baristas are paired to form teams representing 13 different countries. Each team is flown to Gran Canaria, one of the few places in Europe where there are coffee plantations, bringing their combined skills, personalities and cultures to create Licor 43 coffee cocktails to compete for points in a series of challenges.

Once again, Gavin Wrigley of The European Bar School was the engaging MC and referee who oversaw and drove three days of challenges which included foraging for ingredients in a coffee plantation, mystery box and quiz rounds. Three teams emerged with the highest scores for the head-to-head final where they presented their signature Licor 43 and coffee cocktails: Denmark, Spain and Australia.

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The Australian team, bartender Millie Tang (The Gresham, Brisbane) and barista Jessie Williamson (Black Lab Coffee, Brisbane), were pronounced champions after presenting their signature Island Hopper Cocktail (recipe below).

Runners-up from Denmark and Spain also impressed the judges with their "The Companion" and "Esfera" cocktails. The Companion (below) was brilliant for its delicious equal parts simplicity while the Esfera (also below) was a show-piece cocktail with a great backstory. However, the Australian's Island Hopper was one of those cocktails that you just can't stop drinking. Equally as delicious and it was interesting. And from my perspective surprising with several big and rich flavours brought together harmoniously in one of the most original, and frankly unlikely cocktail combinations that I've ever tried. My fellow judges for the final: Coffee gurus Merijn Gijsbers and Timon Kaufmann were torn between the three engaging presentations and superb cocktails but agree that the Australian's were worthy winners. I should mention that my bartending daughter, Stephanie Difford, ably judged the first challenge in my place. Thanks Steph.

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Rasmus Greve Christiansen & John Michael Saunderson from Denmark presented their Companion cocktail (recipe below).

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Petar Grishev Marinov & Alex Kim from Spain presented their Esfera cocktail (recipe below).

The Competing Teams

Artem Talalay from the Russian team, in the final for a second year, deserves a special mention for his presentations during the challenges and general endearing distinctly Russian personality. The Spanish team, Petar Grishev Marinov and Alex Kim who were playing a home card also made us all feel at home, often being as much warm hosts as they were competitors. And my thanks to all of the following and the folk from Licor 43 for being such great companions and friends over three enjoyable days of competition and experiences in the historic town of Las Palmas.

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Australia - Millie Tang (bartender) & Jessie Williamson (barista)
Signature cocktail: Island Hopper
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain over block ice in a rocks glass. Top with splash of Cava.
20ml Licor 43
20ml Espresso (Platinum blend by The Black Lab Coffee Co.)
15ml Pandan infused Coco Lopez*
10ml Fernet Branca
1 dash angostura bitters
Top with Cava
*Pandan infusion: Take one can Coco Lopez, one large fresh pandan leaf and tear into smaller pieces, heat in a saucepan on low heat and simmer until the flavour has been extracted from the leaf, about 15 minutes or so, strain.

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Belgium - Andrés Claeys (bartender) & Joke De Conick (barista)

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Denmark - Rasmus Greve Christiansen (bartender) & John Michael Saunderson (barista)
Signature cocktail: Companion
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass.
45 ml Licor 43 Original
45 ml Manzanilla Sherry infused with coffee

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Estonia - Kriston Tomingas (bartender) & Henri Jürgenstein (barista)

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European Bar School - Ludwig Andersson (bartender from Sweden) & Pierre Tymms (barista from Denmark)
Signature cocktail: Around the World in 43 Days
Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Cocoflakes, coffee beans and Cured Blueberries**

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into rocks glass over block ice. Finish with foam float.
25ml Licor 43 Original
35ml East India Arrak
25ml Roasted lemon Juice*
20ml Demerara/Raw Coco Sugar Syrup*
35ml Washed Caturra Coffee (Aeropressed)
Float Pea Milk/Coffee Ground/Coconut Foam*
*Roasted Lemon Juice is roasted in coconut oil in a pan until the surface reaches half dark colour. Reason - Not too sour flavour and instead caramelized flavour.
*Demerara/Raw Coco Sugar is made by 1part Demerara Sugar and 1part Raw coco Sugar and 2 parts water. Dissolve. "Reason - We wanted a darker richer sugar syrup with more depth and molasses."
*The Foam "we make in a siphon and charge twice. It contains 12cl egg white, 5cl coconut cream, 5cl Sproud (which is a milk made from peas, rich in protein and THE thing that Baristas in Sweden are using atm) 3cl Coffee Ground Syrup (Reason - Sustainability and less bitter flavour to balance out the sweetness, 5cl Licor 43 for complexity."
*Cured Blueberries: "In Sweden we have cured fish for a long time and I cure these in a container with 80% Casting Sugar 15% Salt and 5% Coffee Beans. Reason - Makes them savoury, yet sweet and bitter."

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Finland - Akseli Pajala (bartender) & Ronja Kolho (barita)

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Germany - Suzanne Fiebiger (bartender) & Nadja Mayrhofer (barista)

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Netherlands - Bryan Kuijer (bartender) & Laurens De Costa (barista)
Signature cocktail
Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: Spritz of absinthe and grate coffee bean over surface.
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
25ml Licor 43 Baristo
25ml Pekoe Supreme Ceylon tea liqueur
25ml Brazilian cold brew coffee

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Norway - Joakim Anderson (bartender) & Harold Johnsen Voyle (barista)

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Russia - Artem Talalay (bartender) & Ramil Rzaev (barista)

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Spain - Petar Grishev Marinov (bartender) & Alex Kim (barista)
Signature cocktail: Esfera cocktail
30 ml Matusalem añejo
20 ml Licor 43 Baristo
10 ml Licor 43 Original
50 ml Dry tomato syrup
50 ml Ethiopian coffee and coffee husk
20 ml Lemon juice

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Sweden - Ludwig Norderfors (bartender) & Matteus Silvo (barista)
Signature cocktail: Clarified Swedish Pink Pantha
A clarified milk punch made with Artic raspberries, brown butter, sugar syrup, lemon, juice and milk with an infusion of Licor 43 with natural processed Brazilian single-origin coffee variety bourbon Icatuoch Munson nova coffee roasted for filter coffee (over medium roasted) good body and fruity.

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United Kingdom - Nikulus Hannigan (bartender) & Janis Burka (barista)
Signature cocktail: Breakfast of 43 champions
Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: Orange zest twist
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
40 ml Licor 43 Original
30 ml Sambewe AB Tanzanian single-origin espresso (or another quality, fruity coffee with high acidity)
15 ml Luxardo maraschino
3 dashes White wine vinegar
2 dashes Saline solution (20 gr salt to 80 gr water)

Photographs from the three days

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Jeep safari up a mountain to a coffee plantation.

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The Coffee Plantation Challenge

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Jump forward if you know the answer quiz

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Gavin "Mr MC" Wrigley

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Sara Massa, Global PR & Education Manager for Licor 43

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Judges Merijn Gijsbers and Timon Kaufmann

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Stephanie Difford, judge

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The Market Challenge

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The Skills Challenge - race to cut the longest lemon zest

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