Kate Ashford
March 19, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Brite’s follow-up to her 2002 gay coming-of-age novel, The Value of X, revisits an older John Rickey and Gary ”G-Man” Stubbs as recently unemployed New Orleans line cooks with a brainstorm: to start a restaurant with a menu featuring alcohol in every dish. With help from a wealthy backer, the two embark on a vodka-soaked quest for fame, fortune, and the perfect tapenade. Stumbling blocks include the restaurant site’s pesky Mob-murder past and a cokehead ex-boss who has it out for Rickey. Steeped in spicy dialogue and N’awlins flavor, Liquor offers a behind-the-swinging-door peek into the world of chefs, at once chaotic, slightly depraved, and food-obsessed. Despite the fairly predictable plot, sumptuous descriptions of drizzled sauces and pecan-crusted entrees make Liquor a pleasant after-dinner read.

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