Book Review: Last Call

Book Review: Last Call

What’s the last drink you’d want before you die? I’ve been thinking about this since cracking open Last Call, but still haven’t made up my mind. Maybe a Zombie. Something to go out with a bang, and something immediately delicious and decadent. Definitely not something like a Martini or a Negroni… though some 30 year old single malt Scotch sounds like a nice way to go out, too.

Such musings are the concept behind Brad Thomas Parsons’ book, wherein he visits nearly 40 notable drinking establishments in 23 cities, all across the U.S., and speaks with bartenders about their backstories, their work ethic, the highs and lows (but mostly the highs) of running a bar, what closing time is like (the literal one), and — inevitably — what they want to drink as the last and most real closing time arrives.

It’s these final drinks that make the book so memorable. There are plenty of Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Martinis (three different recipes are included) in the book, and it’s hardly surprising that tiki-obsessed Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate chooses a Jet Pilot after waxing poetic about rum. Chad Spangler of D.C.-based Service Bar doesn’t seem to understand the assignment and selects a drink off his bar’s own menu. The complex recipe spans two pages and requires infusing whiskey for three days, to start. He’d be dead before they finished making it.

It’s the outliers that are the most intriguing: Miller High Life and a shot of rye. A shot of Laird’s apple brandy. A frozen strawberry daiquiri. Jesus, that does sound good — presuming it’s hot outside on D-day, right?

There are also plenty of more unusual concoctions in the book that would be fine to drink even if you’re perfectly healthy and nowhere near death, though you won’t use Last Call as any sort of cocktail reference. Drinks and bars appear in no apparent order, but most of the stories are interesting, and for those that aren’t, well, you can easily choose to skip ahead — or simply admire the many, many full-page photographs that fill the book’s 288 pages as you scan for what your next, if not last, cocktail ought to be.


Last Call




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