The Last Word Cocktail Reborn
Ever have a recipe that makes you want to run to the kitchen and start cooking immediately? The recent Motor City Journal piece on the Last Word made me want to run to my bar. The Last Word is a classic cocktail that originated at the Detroit Athletic Club during the Prohibition era. It combines gin, maraschino liqueur, lime and green Chartreuse (a recipe is here). The end result is a celery green cocktail that looks delicate but has a big flavor profile that is by turns, herbal, sweet and sharp.
The cocktail's punch comes from the green Chartreuse, a French liqueur which is flavored with 130 herbs (there is also a milder yellow version). It was once made in the Grande Chartreuse monastery but is now produced under the supervision of monks from the monastery. The picture above shows one of the monks with a glass of the liqueur in 1953. On its own, Chartreuse has a potent medicinal quality. The Last Word recipe makes it a bit more palatable, lightening its treacly quality and rounding out the grassier notes into something lighter and more refreshing.
The Last Word has languished in obscurity for years but is experiencing a revival led by cocktail aficionados who find it has just the right amount of history, mystery and uncommon taste. It's becoming popular in urban bars around the world once again. The good news for home bartenders, is that it's also a pretty easy drink to make. No muddling, infusions or elaborate garnishes required, as long as you have the ingredients on hand you are good to go. After the jump, an episode of The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess shows how it's done.