Aperitif Authority: Francesco Lafranconi
Francesco Lafranconi has a preternatural knack for creating exceptional aperitifs; that's probably because before-dinner drinks are a custom in his native Italy. The Las Vegasbased director of mixology for the megadistributor Southern Wine & Spirits, Lafranconi thinks like a chef when devising his recipes, playing up a spirit's botanical flavors with straightforward ingredients (grapefruit) and offbeat ones (Cape gooseberry jam). And like many chefs, he enjoys pairing food and drinks. His favorite combination is the Cortés with seared foie gras.