Gin is a misunderstood and underappreciated member of the spirits family tree. It is baffling how immediate a person’s distaste is for the extremely versatile drink, but the Last Word might change some minds due to its complexity, balance, and approachable flavor.
Much like the classic Negroni, the Last Word’s original recipe is also equal parts but uses London dry gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, green chartreuse, and fresh lime juice to create its blend. On paper, it doesn’t seem like this combination of bold gin, herbal chartreuse, sweet maraschino, and tart lime would hold together to become something drinkable but alas, it is a refreshing sipper perfect for the warm days ahead.
The history of the Last Word is universally told the same way with its roots beginning in the early 20th Century in Michigan at the Detroit Athletic Club during the Prohibition Era (1920-1933) but was said to have been created around 1915. According to Punch, the drink fell out of favor but was revived in the 1951 book Ted Saucier’s Bottoms Up, a classic collection of cocktails that every enthusiast should own.
After the turn of the century and a renewed interest in the drinks of speakeasy past began to surface on bar menus across the country, bartenders began to invent their own tweaks and twists. But the original version is a good starting point for those new to it. For my version, I used Beefeater for the gin and stuck to the basics with the other ingredients.
The chartreuse gives it a yellowish-green tint that plays well in a coupe glass with a Luxardo maraschino cherry for the garnish. Since the drink is already on the sweeter side, you can omit the cherry for an expressed lemon twist.
The Last Word:
3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz green chartreuse
3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
Combine the liquids in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Cover and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds until very cold and single strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist and enjoy.
The flavor profile of the Last Word is tangy at first sip then mellows into an herbal, slightly sugary finish. The aromatics of the chartreuse and maraschino liqueur give the drink a unique bouquet and, while on the boozy side, one is fine but two would be a good sweet spot to end the evening.
As always, sip safely, friends.
Photo: D.L. Chandler