Bartenders can be a deeply philosophical lot, and a new book from James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons digs into the psyche of prominent barkeeps from across the country, including Atlanta’s Greg Best of Ticonderoga Club and Miles Macquarrie of Kimball House and Watchman’s.
“Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time” may be a lengthy title, but it captures the provocative idea that a bartender’s choice of last drink - of the night, of one’s life – offers insight into his or her outlook on life itself.
Parsons has embarked on a book tour that will revisit many of the bars that populate the book, including a Nov. 4 stop at Decatur’s Kimball House where he will moderate a discussion with Best, Macquarrie, and bartender Gary Crunkleton of the Crunkleton, with locations in Chapel Hill and Charlotte. An open cocktail party will follow the ticketed talk, with drinks inspired by the book.
Reached in Seattle on the first night of his tour, Parsons was already looking forward to the tour’s southern swing, during which he’ll travel across the Carolinas, to Atlanta, then Tennessee. Parsons said the talk at Kimball House will allow him to go deeper into some of the topics that Best and Macquarrie brought up in the book, as well as the drinks they chose for their own personal last call.
Best’s death row drink of choice is a Sazerac, but with a telling twist. Instead of the typical pour in a rocks glass, he said that the moment demands going big with a full pint glass of the classic New Orleans cocktail. “We’re all mortal. We’re all going to croak. Let’s make the most of it and enjoy every moment,” Best is quoted in “Last Call.”
As for Macquarrie, he also wishes for a classic – a proper Brooklyn made with elusive Amer Picon, a French aperitif not available in the United States. Despite Amer Picon’s rarity, Macquarrie does his best to keep some behind the bar at Kimball House, purely for fueling those proper Brooklyns.
Anyone who has made it to closing time at Kimball House will recognize the impressive nightly ritual that Macquarrie mentions in the book. For everyone else, buy the book or simply hit Kimball House for Parson’s book tour, then stay for however many rounds it takes to reach last call.
LAST CALL: IN CONVERSATION WITH MILES MACQUARRIE, GREG BEST & GARY CRUNKLETON
6-9 p.m. Nov. 4. Panel discussion from 6-7 p.m. $25 including light snack and welcome cocktail. Book will be for sale by Acapella Books. Tickets available at khspirits.eventbrite.com. Open cocktail party, featuring drinks from “Last Call” by Brad Thomas Parsons. Kimball House. 303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502, kimball-house.com.
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