Last Call

Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time

James Beard Award Finalist
Spirited Award Winner


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.

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 dozens of cocktail recipes and stunning photography make this a keepsake for barflies and cocktail enthusiasts of all stripes.


“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

“Brad Thomas Parsons brilliantly takes us behind the scenes in this insider’s visit with bartenders across the country, who disclose what they’d choose as their last libation. Not only do they share their thoughts, they also give us a taste of their favorite cocktails with a host of inspiring recipes that anyone can shake or stir up at home. You’ll savor every sip of this spirited look at what goes on behind the bar—from small-town dives to big-city speakeasies—when closing time finally arrives.”

—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen and French Drinks

“This book is brimming with great recipes, but Last Call reminds us, with intimacy and warmth, that stories and the people who tell them are the very best portion of bar life.”

—Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking with Men

“With the constant companionship of bartenders along the way, Brad Thomas Parsons takes us on a tour of some of the country’s finest establishments in a somber yet seductive celebration of that hard-earned final moment of reflection, often paired with the perfect tune and a flawlessly poured drink in hand.”

—Charlie Hall, The War on Drugs