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About Brad Thomas Parsons
Brad Thomas Parsons is the author of "Bitters" (winner of the James Beard and IACP Cookbook Awards, and a finalist for the Tales Spirited Awards), "Amaro," "Distillery Cats," and "Last Call" (James Beard Award finalist, Tales Spirited Award winner). Parsons received an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and his work has appeared in "Bon Appétit," "Lucky Peach," "Food & Wine," "Travel + Leisure," "Imbibe," PUNCH, and more. He lives in Brooklyn.
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The European tradition of making bittersweet liqueurs--called amari in Italian--has been around for centuries. But it is only recently that these herbaceous digestifs have moved from the dusty back bar to center stage in the United States, and become a key ingredient on cocktail lists in the country’s best bars and restaurants. Lucky for us, today there is a dizzying range of amaro available—from familiar favorites like Averna and Fernet-Branca, to the growing category of regional, American-made amaro.
Starting with a rip-roaring tour of bars, cafés, and distilleries in Italy, amaro’s spiritual home, Brad Thomas Parsons—author of the James Beard and IACP Award–winner Bitters—will open your eyes to the rich history and vibrant culture of amaro today. With more than 100 recipes for amaro-centric cocktails, DIY amaro, and even amaro-spiked desserts, you’ll be living (and drinking) la dolce vita.
Author and bitters enthusiast Brad Thomas Parsons traces the history of the world’s most storied elixir, from its earliest “snake oil” days to its near evaporation after Prohibition to its ascension as a beloved (and at times obsessed-over) ingredient on the contemporary bar scene. Parsons writes from the front lines of the bitters boom, where he has access to the best and boldest new brands and flavors, the most innovative artisanal producers, and insider knowledge of the bitters-making process.
Whether you’re a professional looking to take your game to the next level or just a DIY-type interested in homemade potables, Bitters has a dozen recipes for customized blends--ranging from Apple to Coffee-Pecan to Root Beer bitters--as well as tips on sourcing ingredients and step-by-step instructions fit for amateur and seasoned food crafters alike.
Also featured are more than seventy cocktail recipes that showcase bitters’ diversity and versatility: classics like the Manhattan (if you ever get one without bitters, send it back), old-guard favorites like the Martinez, contemporary drinks from Parsons’s own repertoire like the Shady Lane, plus one-of-a-kind libations from the country’s most pioneering bartenders. Last but not least, there is a full chapter on cooking with bitters, with a dozen recipes for sweet and savory bitters-infused dishes.
Part recipe book, part project guide, part barman’s manifesto, Bitters is a celebration of good cocktails made well, and of the once-forgotten but blessedly rediscovered virtues of bitters.
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
Distillery Cats cheekily tells the tale of the historical role of these spirited cats and their evolution from organic pest control to current brand ambassadors. James Beard Award-winning author (and noted cat enthusiast) Brad Thomas Parsons profiles 30 of the world's most adorable and lovable distillery cats, featuring "interviews," a hand-drawn portrait of each cat, plus trading card-style stat sheets with figures like "super-power" and "mice killed." Featuring 15 cocktail recipes to enjoy while you page through, Distillery Cats is a quirky but essential addition to any cat or spirits lover's bookshelf.