Brazil Takes Top Honors in the 5th Annual Licor 43 Bartenders & Barista Challenge - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Brazil Takes Top Honors in the 5th Annual Licor 43 Bartenders & Barista Challenge

Thalita Freire Cacho of Venda do Maninho has been named the winner of this year’s Licor 43 Bartenders & Baristas Challenge. As in 2020, this year’s competition was held virtually, and it invited cocktail and coffee professionals from around the world to showcase their ability to pair Licor 43 and coffee in creative cocktails. 

The 2021 judging panel included coffee champion Merijn Gijsbers, coffee and cocktail consultant Timon Kaufmann, and Imbibe senior editor, Penelope Bass. The judges reviewed videos created by nine regional winners, then evaluated each of their cocktail creations. Freire Cacho’s winning cocktail, Tropicália, combines Licor 43, coffee, and passion fruit. Second place was awarded to Maj Schöffmann from the European Bartender School, and third place went to U.S. bartender Michelle Nguyen. “Thalita won because she was delivering exactly what we were looking for—a simple and easy-to-replicate, yet delicious, coffee cocktail that showcases the potential and flavors of Licor43,” says Kaufmann. “More than this, she provided a good story and name while showing profound knowledge of the coffee she was using.”

“From the Brazilian history behind the drink’s name to the use of a locally developed coffee varietal, the Tropicália cocktail is as thoughtful as it is delicious!” adds Bass. Gijsbers agrees. “I absolutely loved Thalita’s drink,” he says. “She managed to create a cocktail that brings all the flavor notes of Licor 43, the coffee of her choice, and the other ingredients together in a sweet and pleasant drink. I like how she played with the acidity of the fresh passion fruit and made the ingredients work together in a cocktail with subtle fruity flavors, but also notes of caramel and licorice. The drink is easy to prepare and looks elegant.”

As the winner, Freire receives 3,000 Euros to put towards a training course or professional equipment of her choice. Head here to check out all of this year’s finalists and to hear more from the judges about their cocktails.

TROPICÁLIA50 ml. Licor 43
25 ml. French-pressed coffee (Freire uses a Catuaí-Amarelo coffee)
20 ml. passion fruit pulp

Tools: shaker, strainer, fine strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: basil leaf

Chill a glass and set aside. Cut open the passion fruit and scoop out the pulp, then use a sieve to separate the concentrated liquid from the seeds. Put all of the ingredients in a shaker and shake without ice until it creates a bit of foam. Add ice to the shaker, then shake vigorously. Double strain the cocktail into the chilled coupe. To garnish, smack the basil to release its aromatics and use it to aromatize the glass in circular movements, then place it on top of the drink’s surface.

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