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Summer 2011 Host’s Guide: Ultimate Lobster Bake: Cocktails

Master mixologist Francesco Lafranconi of Southern Wine & Spirits recommends anticipating the desires of every guest when planning a meal such as a lobster bake with a modern twist. Though he has conjured unique cocktails to accompany the menu’s appetizers and layers of seafood, he says, “There are certain courses that deserve a wonderful wine.”

Striking a balance between the textures of food and the mouthfeel of wine and cocktails is the key to perfect pairings, says Lafranconi, who is especially passionate about the liqueurs of his native Italy.

He suggests the savory Speziato—an herbaceous blend of the liqueurs BarSol Primero from Peru and Aperol from Italy—to balance the creaminess of the burrata and the salty flavor of the prosciutto. His suggestion for the gelati dessert blends Strega and limoncello, a well-tempered herbal-citrus mixture.

Speziato serve with appetizers

4 large fresh basil leaves

1 1-by-5-inch strip of red bell pepper, cut into small pieces, plus another for garnish

11/2 oz. fresh lemon juice sweetened with 3/4 oz. agave nectar

11/2 oz. BarSol Primero pisco

3/4 oz. Aperol

Place basil, bell pepper, and sweetened lemon juice in a shaker and muddle briskly. Add pisco and Aperol and 2 cups of ice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass garnished with a bell pepper strip. (Note: Use a small strainer to remove pieces of broken basil leaves when pouring from shaker into cocktail glass. This technique is known as “double straining.”)

Soleo serve with dessert

1 oz. Strega (an herbal liqueur colored with saffron)

1 oz. high-quality limoncello

Fresh lemon verbena

Combine 12 oz. of each liqueur in a 750 ml bottle and store in the freezer. Shake the bottle before serving. Serve 2 oz. very cold in a small cordial glass or snifter garnished with a small sprig of fresh lemon verbena, without ice.

(Note: Mixture will keep for about a year.)