Aperitif Authority: Francesco Lafranconi

By Kate Krader and Cocktails 2010
Updated March 31, 2015

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 Vegas–based 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.

Pleasantly bitter, herb-infused Campari is a bracing aperitif, especially when it's blended with a little sparkling wine as it is here. Neal Bodenheimer, the owner of Cure in New Orleans, loves how the vivid-red Italian spirit tastes with fennel. "This is a perfect way to use up any leftover fennel fronds from the kitchen," he says.
PAUL COSTELLO



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