Winner Brandon Stead photographed with Art of Italicus Aperitivo challenge judges, Erik Lorincz, Sandrae Lawrence and Roberta Marian, as well as ITALICUS founder, Guiseppe Gallo hosted at London’s Four Seasons Hotel

ITALICUS crowns UK National Finalist winner for the best art-inspired aperitivo cocktail, in the competitions sixth edition. 

Award-winning Italian aperitivo brand, ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto is delighted to announce Brandon Stead from 45 West Gin and Cocktail Bar in Leicester as the UK winner of the 2024 Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge. Brandon has secured a spot in the upcoming final in Rome, where he will have the opportunity to compete for the Global title and a once in a lifetime trip and mentorship with Cafe La Trova by Julio Cabrera in Miami. 

Brandon’s winning creation ‘Vincent and Gallo’ stunned judges with a combination of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, homemade clarified sunflower seed orgeat, IPA, soda, and Absinthe. Brandon Stead tells the story behind the inspiration of his artistic cocktail: “I was inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers and their connection to Italy, the beauty of nature, and believing in your work, despite what those around you are doing or saying. I loved how Sunflowers rise and set with the sun, in much the same way ITALICUS starts with the morning harvest of Bergamot and ends in the bottle, labelled with the colour of Italian sunsets. Once I started making the connections between Sunflowers and Italicus the cocktail just fell into place, and I couldn’t be happier with how it came out.

Second place was awarded to Emmy Pip Knight from London’s American Bar in The Savoy Hotel, with her cocktail ‘Notion’ which consisted of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, Lem-Marrakech Bitters and a homemade soda, including ingredients such as rose petals and Amontillado sherry.

Marie Nolin from The Coral Room in London was awarded third place, creating ‘Blossom in the Dust’ a cocktail made with ITALICUS Rosolio Di Bergamotto, bergamot juice, kefir fig water and activated veg charcoal.

True purveyors of quality, with an extensive passion for Italian artistry and design, this year’s shortlisted bartenders were tasked with crafting an aperitivo-style cocktail that authentically displays their creativity while exploring with new ingredients, techniques, and glassware to showcase the versatility of ITALICUS. 

Each recipe used a minimum of 40ml (1.5oz in US) of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto and a maximum of five ingredients, incorporating inspirations from various art forms including sculpture, painting, fashion, music, architecture and more.

Eight talented bartenders across the country were selected for the UK National finals, including:

Maia Mandell – Sexy Fish | London

Caron Richmond – Panda & Sons | Edinburgh

Brandon Stead – 45 West Gin and Cocktail Bar | Leicester

Ben Kendrick – Speak In Code | Manchester

Emmy Pip Knight – The American Bar, Savoy Hotel | London

Aldo Chiantella – Viajante87 | London

Edoardo Folin – The Donovan Bar | London

Marie Nolin – The Coral Room | London

The UK final was hosted at London’s luxurious Four Seasons Hotel, London. The judging panel included Erik Lorincz, owner at Kwant Mayfair, Sandrae Lawrence, Co-Founder and editor of The Cocktail Lovers and ItalSpirits Advocacy Director, Roberta Mariani, who comments: “We are pleased to have welcomed eight talented UK bartenders for the UK final of the competition. There was an incredible level of creativity from this year’s bartenders, presenting cocktails to perfectly fit the aperitivo brief and we were very impressed with each cocktail presented. We look forward to having Brandon represent UK on the global stage in Rome.”

The global final will take place on the 12May, where national finalists will gather in Rome to compete for the prestigious title of ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024, along with a once in a lifetime opportunity and mentorship programme in Miami with one of the world’s most influential bars, Cafe La Trova by Julio Cabrera. As part of the prize, the 2024 ITALICUS Bar Artist will immerse themselves in the unique ambiance of the retro, Cuban bar, nestled amidst Miami’s vibrant art scene. Accompanied by a film crew, the winning bartender will document their journey, in a captivating documentary which will later be shared across social media platforms.

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

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