Drinks

Classic: Last Word

No, we’re not shutting the site down, don’t worry. The Last Word is actually the name for a classic Prohibition Era gin cocktail. In fact, it was probably the last cocktail created before Congress tried to ruin everybody’s fun.

History

All accounts of the origins of this drink point to the Detroit Athletics Club in 1920. It’s unclear whether it was poignantly named at this time, or whether it got its name upon its revival, but since Prohibition was also enacted in 1920, perhaps the name was appropriate. Regardless, those would not be the last words of the Last Word (I’m sorry)…

Fast forward three decades to the first revival of this cocktail, referenced in Bottom’s Up (Ted Saucier, 1951). This book pegs the creation to a vaudeville performer named Frank Fogarty and points to the aforementioned Detroit Athletics Club.

I mentioned first revival, because this cocktail’s had another revival more recently and that was in the early 2000s, in a Seattle bar called Zig Zag Café. They were looking through old cocktail books to find something new (yet old) for the menu, when they found the Last Word and started serving it. It seems to have struck a chord, and in the following years it spread to cocktail bars across North America, in lockstep with the expansion of the classic cocktail renaissance that we’re currently experiencing.

Recipe

¾ oz gin (preferably not made in your bathtub)
¾ oz green Chartreuse
¾ oz maraschino liqueur
¾ oz lime juice
Maraschino cherry (optional)

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a coupe or martini glass. Optionally garnish with a maraschino cherry, but note that the original recipe does not call for a garnish. Try not to speak until you’ve finished it.

lastword_recipe

This drink is actually somewhat similar to a sour, minus the egg, with a very dynamic profile of herbs, anise, and lime. It’s also very interesting that the maraschino doesn’t dominate the other flavours, as it often can, but rather balances off of the green chartreuse.

Speaking of Chartreuse, if you don’t have any handy you can try substituting it for Strega. Strega is more similar to yellow Chartreuse than green, so obviously this isn’t going to taste the same as the real thing, but it’s interesting in its own right.

Finally, use your top shelf gin for this one. Chartreuse and maraschino don’t come cheap, so using your best gin is really going to show you why this cocktail is so special. Enjoy!

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