Following the final in Rome this weekend, the acclaimed Italian aperitivo brand, ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, is thrilled to announce Esmerelda Castrogivanni from Sips Drinkery in Spain as the global championship winner of the 2024 Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge. Esmerelda has earned herself the prestigious title, along with an exclusive mentorship at Cafe La Trova withJulio Cabrera in Miami. 

The competition, now in its sixth edition took place on Sunday 12 May, at The Court, one of Tale of The Cocktails top 10 European Hotel Bars, and challenged the finalist bartenders from all over the world to craft an original and unique aperitivo-style cocktail, inspired by any art form and using ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto.

Esmerelda’s award-winning concoction, ’Alloway’, inspired by the English pop art pioneer, Lawrence Reginald Alloway, captivated judges with its blend of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, white bitter and apple soda. The drink was uniquely garnished with an edible napkin made of apple jam and caramel. “With ‘Alloway’ I wanted to provocatively make people reflect on the concept of art and what it represents for each of us. To do so I was inspired by what pop art represented in the 1950s, an artistic movement that revolutionised the world of art, making it accessible to ordinary people and no longer just to a few“. Esmerelda explained.

Following her victory, Esmerelda expressed her delight: “Having won this prestigious title represents a very important achievement for me, which will help me grow further on both a professional and personal level.” 

Second place was awarded to Jan Križaj from Kavarna Moderna in Slovenia, with his cocktail ‘Congelato’ which consisted of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, dry vermouth, pesto and tomato cordial, garnished with Grana Padano with tomato powder. Križaj took inspiration from the power of the art of photography and its ability to capture moments, tell stories and preserve feelings. To create his drink, Križaj was inspired by Harry Craddock, a famous English bartender of the early twentieth century, and by the famous period photo which immortalizes him while he fits a shaker containing a White Lady (one of his most famous cocktails) into a wall of the Savoy’s hotel American bar in London.

Stephanie Wullschleger from Herz Bar in Switzerland was awarded third place, creating ‘Lucha Libre’ a cocktail made with ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, kiwi-jalapeno cordial and soda, garnished with a Red Kiwi.Wullschleger took inspiration from Mexico, naming her cocktail after the famous wrestling style which is based more on athletic gesture than physical strength: an entertainment show in which the protagonists express all their creativity and imagination, which she likened back to the act of bartending.

The competing bartenders presented a creatively curated cocktail to a panel of esteemed judges including Giuseppe Gallo, Founder and CEO of ITALICUS, Paloma Difford, Managing Director of Difford’s Guide, and Julio Cabrera, Maestro Cantinero and owner of Cafe La Trova, Miami, who scored each candidate using their expertise to ensure a fair and insightful evaluation process.

Thirteen talented bartenders across the country were selected for the Global finals, including: 

Ming Yiu Chan – Darkside Rosewood | Hong Kong | ‘Fusillicus’ Cocktail

Maria Hallhagen – Gondolen | Stockholm, Sweden | ‘Panorama’ Cocktail

Brandon Stead – 45 West Fin and Cocktail Bar | Leicester, United Kingdom | ‘Vincent and Gallo’ Cocktail

Jan Križaj – Kavarna Moderna, Ljubljana | Croatia/Slovenia | ‘Congelato’ Cocktail

Guchuan Yin – Double Chicken Please | Manhattan, New York | ‘Bergamot Nomad’ Cocktail

Esmeralda Castrogiovanni – Sips Drinkery | Barcerlona, Spain | ‘Alloway’ Cocktail

Eleni Karatzoglou – Fika, Drama | Greece | ‘Judith’s Rage’ Cocktail

Boldizsár Mihálffy – Neverland Bar | Budapest, Hungary | ‘Street Art’ Cocktail

Stephanie Wullschleger – Herz Bar | Basel, Switzerland | ‘Lucha Libre’ Cocktail

Maureen Cadet – Chateau de la Gaude | Aix-en-Provence, France | ‘Deceptive’ Cocktail

Alessandro Zampieri – Il Mercante | Venice, Italy | ‘Stessosole’ Cocktail

Valerio Sabatiiel – Pier 42 | Oslo, Norway | ‘Sanzio’ Cocktail

Annabell Hemetsberger – Ambra | Coppenhagen, Denmark | ‘Sprezzatura’ Cocktail

Newly crowned Best ITALICUS Bar Artist 2024, Esmerelda, has won a trip to Miami for a once in a lifetime mentorship program, guided by the expertise of Julio Cabrera, the owner of Café La Trova, which has ranked and was named a finalist in the 2023 edition of 50 World’s Best Bars. 

Giuseppe Gallo, Founder and CEO of ITALICUS, and judge on the day comments: “The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge is a program designed to discover and showcase emerging talents in our industry year after year. This competition serves as a creative platform, allowing bartenders to express their artistic sensitivity and imagination without any barriers or limits. This year, we had the honour of witnessing a competition featuring young bartenders of the highest calibre in both technique and style,” concludes Gallo. “We are thrilled to see so many talented individuals eager to participate in the program, aiming to enhance their skills and grow professionally.

For further information on The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge, please visit

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