In Business, Dining, Events, News

By Stacey Gualandi

Francesco Lafranconi knows of what he drinks: “When you wake up on Monday and you start to taste a drink, it’s a great week.”

The master mixologist is the distilled spirits industry’s most in-demand drink maker, so starting off the week judging a spirits compe tition is just the first round of what will be a very busy month for this cocktail culture icon. In other words, Lafranconi has a lot on his plate … or, should I say, palate.

On June 3, as Carver Road Hospitality’s Vice President of Beverage & Hospitality Culture, Lafranconi is on tap to kick off The World’s 50 Best Restaurants debut in Las Vegas when Resorts World hosts Indulge: A Week of Food, Culture and Entertainment through June 7.

Lafranconi and Carversteak’s Executive Chef Daniel Ontiveros – along with World’s 50 Best award-winning chefs Virgilio Martínez, Pia León, Joan Roca and Jordi Roca – are hosting a one-of-a-kind dinner and four signature cocktails he created for the event.

Lafranconi follows that with a two-night drink activation “chaser” on June 4 and 5 at the Wynn Las Vegas-hosted Revelry 2024 culinary festival, another fantastic feast featuring once-in-a-lifetime experiences with the world’s best chefs.

This all comes on the heels of Carver Road Hospitality’s recently opened Seamark (with a 16-seat speakeasy called Old Wives’ Tale), an elevated steak and seafood experience at The Encore in Boston and the expanding sports bar properties with the Flanker brand.

Oh, and this Italian transplant is currently stirring things up in New York City with Rosevale Kitchen & Cocktail Room in the 2-year-old Civilian Hotel.

“Rosevale has the largest vermouth-by-the-glass selection in the world – 220 labels!” Lafranconi boasts.

I say, give that man a drink! It’s straight-up success for the one-time teenage bartender-turned-tireless teacher whose motto is “We’re not drinking. We’re learning,” after years of sharing his techniques.

“It’s a very strong effort, so I’m pleased that at least all my drinking didn’t go in vain,” Lafranconi jokes.

Lafranconi took a quick timeout from tasting to talk about the first Indulge in Las Vegas, the state of mixology and, of course, his go-to cocktail. (Nope, it’s not his signature espresso martini.)

Explain why The World’s 50 Best and the Indulge and Revelry events surrounding it are so unprecedented for Las Vegas?

Bringing 50 Best to a city like Las Vegas, it allows it to gain recognition to be more commercially available. Due to the tourism, the volume and the conventions, Las Vegas is a great platform to host international events.

And now, if you want to make a splash in the United States with over 300 million people and also internationally for Europeans to look into it, beside New York and Miami, it’s definitely Las Vegas. We are able to be the next benchmark for many cities in the future. Some of the very strong cities, they lost the ground. On the other end, we are not; we keep on growing.

What is the state of Sin City mixology right now?

I feel we have amazing quality, especially when you’re looking at restaurants, groups or hotel groups, and the volumes that we face. But I feel that Vegas has always been a little bit of a black sheep in all this international panorama. We still have, how can I say, the “stigma” for quantity vs. quality.

You don’t see one of the 50 Best bars in North America coming from Las Vegas. [But] I think right now there’s a great opportunity to experience commitment through craft mixologists in The Arts District. In Downtown, they just opened a Japanese bar concept, Bar Ginza, from the former beverage manager of Nobu one block away from us.

Carver Road Hospitality is a young company, but that hasn’t stopped it from taking its concepts on the road.

We like to tap into different experiences for our guests. The longer we are in existence, the more we are learning how to not to do certain things and how to do things better or more efficiently.

We do have other cities and concepts that are on the radar right now. So, 2025 and 2026 will be very busy. The CEO (Sean Christie) and I are still looking at a great pop-up overseas that we are exploring.

You just don’t stop. There’s no quit in you, Francesco!

People tell me I look the same, and I say, “I don’t have time to age.”

All right, well, then I need your secret.

Happiness, drink and eat well. Good whiskey. Good food. Good company.

I would be remiss in not asking what is your go-to cocktail?

The Americano. It’s equal parts sweet Vermouth, Campari and club soda; a tall glass, a slice of orange, lemon peel and then call it a day. I can have that for breakfast. Ha! I do like an unshaken daiquiri, and a Negroni is always good before dinner.

If you weren’t one of the world’s foremost mixologists, what else would you be doing?

I would be an interior designer or men’s fashion designer and doing something to increase the esthetic value of civilization.

Thank you, Francesco. The next round is on me!



An exquisite expression of a clarified punch obtained from Ocho Single Estate Reposado Tequila, Ancho Reyes Liqueur, Hominy, Tomatillo, Sotol Nectar-Lime Saccharum.

Garnish: Corn Shoot-Micro Cilantro and steamed white corn inside corn husk with a sprinkle of tajin.

Suggested Food Pairing: Land of Corn. The essence of corn and agave spirit with green poblano chili flavors is a harmonious blend of savory and tangy-sweet.

Glass: Nude Lowball

Origins of the Name: It is suggested that the Nahua peoples originated in regions of the present-day Mexican states of Durango and Nayarit or the Bajío region and migrated into central Mexico around 500 CE. The Nahua then settled in and around the Basin of Mexico and spread out to become the dominant people in central Mexico. However, Nahuatl-speaking populations were present in smaller populations throughout Mesoamerica.

Le Bourbon Noir

Sophistication and decadence can be experienced in this Old Fashioned-like cocktail. Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey with Black Truffle-Illy Arabica Coffee Tincture, enriched with Elderflower and Pineau de Charente with a touch of smoked Lapsang Souchon Tea-Maple reduction.

Garnish: One dehydrated orange wheel, truffle flake with 24-carat edible gold coated Arabica bean on top.

Suggested Food Pairing: Steamed Black Truffle Brioche

Glass: Nude Lowball

Origins of the Name: Inspired by a fusion of black truffle variety and Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Sip on a vibrant and savory Gin & Tonic capturing Mediterranean flavors with Gin Mare and Agean Tonic by Three Cents with a hint of citrus elements and fragrant herbs.

Garnish: Bouquet Garní and caper berry with cured lemon. Served over icicle.

Suggested Food Pairing: Olivada.

Glass: Nude Hi-ball

Origins of the Name: It is a fusion of two words “olive” and “Mediterranean” to capture the true essence of

Amazonian Bliss

Hwayo 41 Korean Soju infused with Chicha Morada, lime flavors and Peruvian Mistelle enriched with Cherimoya Foam.

Garnish: Dark chocolate shard coated with a sprinkle of chicha morada powdered spices. Shard placed across the glass.

Suggested Food Pairing: Amazonian pork, clay and cacao shavings.

Glass: Nude stemmed cocktail glass

Origins of the Name: The name aims to evoke a sense of bliss and exoticness transporting the drinker to the vibrant flavors of Peruvian cuisine and the Korean Soju tradition.


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