From the James Beard Award-winning author of Bitters and Amaro comes this poignant, funny, and often elegiac exploration of the question, What is the last thing you'd want to drink before you die?, with bartender profiles, portraits, and cocktail recipes.
JAMES BEARD AWARD FINALIST • WINNER OF THE TALES OF THE COCKTAIL SPIRITED AWARD® • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Everyone knows the parlor game question asked of every chef and food personality in countless interviews: What is the last meal you'd want to eat before you die? But what does it look like when you pose the question to bartenders? In Last Call, James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons gathers the intriguing responses from a diverse range of bartenders around the country, including Guido Martelli at the Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia (he chooses an extra-dry Martini), Joseph Stinchcomb at Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi (he picks the Last Word, a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail that's now a cult favorite), and Natasha David at Nitecap in New York City (she would be sipping an extra-salty Margarita). The resulting interviews and essays reveal a personal portrait of some of the country's top bartenders and their favorite drinks, while over 40 cocktail recipes and stunning photography make this a keepsake for barflies and cocktail enthusiasts of all stripes.
Praise for Last Call
“[Parsons] captures the people and places through stunning photographs and prose. Like a perfectly balanced cocktail, it is equal parts cocktail recipes, travelogue and mixtape.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Measure equal parts travelogue, tell-all, discography, and cocktail companion—in service of an obituary of all patrons—and you have Last Call; Brad Thomas Parsons’s best book yet. Through soulful photos and gritty interviews, he and photographer Ed Anderson capture the rawness, vulnerability, and ecstasy of the metamorphosis between the end of a guest’s night and the beginning of a bartender’s.”—Jim Meehan, author of Meehan’s Bartender Manual and The PDT Cocktail Book
“This book is a delight. Last Call shows us the sense of community evoked by bartenders across the country, whose wisdom and tenderness are captured here both in words and beautiful photographs. It made me—an erstwhile bartender and faithful customer—happy to remember that we all have nights when we unexpectedly hear the words ‘last call,’ and that noble and fascinating bartenders are out there waiting to share it with us.”—Alan Cumming
Drink experts offer end-of-life planning with a twist or sometimes an olive in this ambitious cocktail guide that doesn't live up to its promise. "As I approached my fiftieth birthday, my own mortality and sense of legacy weighed heavy on my mind," writes James Beard Award winning Parsons (Bitters and Amaro) in the introduction to this travelogue cum collection of recipes and bartender interviews. Visiting nearly three dozen bars throughout the country, Parsons asks mixologists for the recipe for the last drink they would like to have before they die. Given the premise, the book is disappointingly not quite edgy enough to captivate, nor especially epiphanic. Parsons's project is instead workmanlike, with straightforward prose, informative Q&As, and moments of serendipity. At Brooklyn's Long Island Bar, he meets Toby Cecchini, the man who, while working at Odeon in the 1980s, perfected the cosmopolitan. As a cocktail collection, the book's 40 recipes are a mixed bag: some bartenders want to meet their maker with a classic Manhattan (two nearly identical recipes are offered) or martini. More intriguing are the craft cocktail options such as the grilled apricot iced tea, using apricot-infused Irish whiskey, found at the Service Bar in Washington, D.C., or the Kona swizzle, with rum and coffee liqueur, from the Fox Liquor Bar in Raleigh, N.C. While there are certainly gems, unfortunately, too much here feels watered down.