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The Art of Italicus Aperitivo Challenge announces its UK 2024 winner – Brandon Stead

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.

Italicus winner

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 American Bar in The Savoy London, 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 global final will take place on 12 May, 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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