Hong Kong-based Leo Ko became the first bartender from the city to bring home three awards from the World Cocktail Competition 2023 that were held in Italy from November 28-December 1. Ko — who is the beverage manager of Cordis, Hong Kong — was crowned the World Bartender of The Year 2023, and won the Cocktail of The Year — Low ABV and Best Sensory Skill awards.

The four-day event, which was organised by the International Bartenders Association in Rome, saw Ko compete against mixologists from 67 countries around the world and become the only contestant to win three top awards this year.

Ko, the chief mixologist of Alibi — Wine Dine Be Social, impressed the judges with his cocktail inspired by Yuen Yueng — the classic Hong Kong drink that combines coffee and milk tea — and to secure the Cocktail of the Year Award in the Low ABV category. He was also recognised for this outstanding ability to engage all the senses and create a truly immersive and unforgettable experience for cocktail enthusiasts, and therefore awarded the Best Sensory Skill Award.

The World Bartender of The Year 2023 is awarded in two categories: Classic and Flair. While Ko took home the Classic award, Roman Zapata from Argentina won in the Flair category. The Cocktail of the Year is also awarded in the Before Dinner, Long Drink, Sparkling, and After Dinner categories, as well as Low ABV.

hong kong bartender leo ko at the world cocktail competition 2023
Hong Kong bartender Leo Ko at the World Cocktail Competition 2023 (© Cordis, Hong Kong)

It’s been a big year for Hong Kong’s bar scene, as two venues from the city made it to the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2023: Coa and Argo. Coa also made history by topping the Asia’s 50 Best Bars rankings for three years in a row. More recently, 11 bars from the SAR were included in the 2023 edition of the Top 500 Bars list.

See also
17 Hidden Bars With Secret Cocktails You Should Not Be Aware Of

Header image credits: Cordis, Hong Kong Bartender Association

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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