Premio Strega Miscelazione Moderna 2016 saw ten Italian bartenders compete over a day-long contest at the Italian liqueur’s distillery in Benevento, Italy.
The bartenders, who were selected from hundreds of recipe submissions, were tasked with making their signature Strega serve.
Judging the competition was Tristan Stephenson, author and owner of London bars Worship Street Whistling Shop and Black Rock; Naren Young of New York bar Dante; Matteo Zed, global brand ambassador for Strega; flair bartender Bruno Vanzan; Stefano Ripiccini, bar manager at Sartoria Bar Ristorante in London; and Hamish Smith, editor of The World’s 50 Best Bars.
Judges then reduced the line up to the five best competitors for the second challenge – the perfect serve -and then again to three bartenders for the final round, the mystery box.
De Franco (pictured) fought off finalists Andrea Brulatti from City Social in London, who finished second, and Erica Pianca from Hard Rock Café in Venice, third, with the best overall score across all three rounds.
The Netherlands-based Italian scored especially highly with her Signature cocktail, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which drew on Strega’s name (which means witch) and the theme of the empowerment of women.
While the perfect serve round was fairly even, the other finalists made mistakes in the mystery box round. De Franco’s creation was deemed by judges to be a solid riff on a Ramos Gin Fizz, with Strega substituted for gin.
De Franco will now collaborate with Strega at events such as Berlin Bar Convent.