The Book

December 2020

Personally, I’m a “whiskey neat” kind of guy. Cocktails do not interest me much, including whiskey cocktails. However, it must be acknowledged that the booming interest in cocktails has played a large role in the modern surge of bourbon and rye popularity in America. If you’re interested in the parallel interest in cocktails, I suggest reading a 2020 release book authored by Brad Thomas Parsons titled Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time. The book is indeed about cocktails, but more deeply about the men and women who serve us those cocktails.

Last Call spends time with several bartenders and bar owners from numerous popular bars and dives across America. You’ve likely heard of some of these bars, and the others may serve as future tourist stops when visiting the area. Each bartender is asked about their “last call.” If you were to pick one drink, any drink, before dying… what would it be? Would you drink a whiskey neat? If so, what and why? Would it be a cocktail? Why? What is your perfect cocktail? Last Call digs into some fascinating stories and reasoning behind why these bar legends would make their last call. As you read about their last call, ponder your own last call.


Last Call provides us with the history, struggle, and growth of popular bars throughout the country. We know these bars today in the form of their current success. However, they all started somewhere. How did they get to where they are today? How was their culture and image built? Understanding the struggle to get where they are in present day is part of the allure of such establishments.

I fully trust that you will find the writing to be captivating, but the photography enclosed within the pages is fully magnificent. If you’re a fan of photography and bottle shots, you will no doubt appreciate the images of this book. Last Call captures the essence of the bars and people who create our drinks. The book runs 288 pages, but a good number of the pages are photographs. It’s a book that can easily completed in a day’s time.

The Dram

I chose to pair this book with Bulleit 12 Year Straight Rye Whiskey, due to the fact that Bulleit seems to be so popular among bartenders. Bulleit Rye was created with intent to give bartenders an excellent, affordable option for cocktails. One of the bartenders featured in this book is also featured in Tom Bulleit’s 2020 release of “Bulleit Proof.”

Bulleit 12 Year Rye is sourced from MGP out of Lawrenceburg, IN. It clocks in at 92 proof. It’s the traditional MGP 95/5 rye mashbill. Upon tasting, you’ll find honey and caramel that are followed by some black licorice and mint. The rye character comes through nicely, with more of a pumpernickel character. For 12 years in oak, the influence of the oak is definitely not all that prevalent. It’s a limited bottle that I hope you’ll pick up.  It’s delicious.


To finish this review, I will leave you with this as the lights go up…

Closing time. One last call for alcohol, so finish your whiskey or beer. Closing time. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

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