But the drink I make the second most isn’t one of the more famous classic cocktails, but rather it’s a lesser known prohibition era drink known as The Last Word.
It was developed in the 1920s at the Detroit Athletic Club, and then disappeared for decades before finding a resurgence in the early 2000s as craft cocktails became en vogue again.
In my mind? The Last Word might be the perfect cocktail. Or at least as close to perfect as one can get.
Well for starters, it’s incredibly easy to make, with equal parts everything.
Two, it’s unique and unexpected. It has more complex flavors than most citrus drinks like a daiquiri or margarita.
Three, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like it.
Recently I was staying with some friends in NYC, and one of them came to me and said “hey for our BBQ this evening, you should make a signature cocktail!”
I may be mediocre on the grill, but when it comes to cocktails, that I can handle.
I walked down to the liquor store and picked up some green Chartreuse, Luxardo maraschino and a bevy of limes, and went back to prepare.
Now, I wasn’t expecting this to be that big of a deal. I assumed people would be happy with their beers and gin and tonics and wouldn’t want this dainty cocktail some random dude from the west coast was making.
I made one.
“What is that?”
“Dude, Sean made it over there, it’s incredible!”
“I want one!”
Within an hour I’d made 20. This super easy to make, random cocktail became the star of the show.
What is Green Chartreuse?
So The Last Word is about as easy as it gets, but for such a simple cocktail, the flavors are incredibly unique.
It consists of equal parts gin, lime, maraschino liqueur, and green Chartreuse.
For me the secret is the chartreuse, because unlike a lot of cocktails, which only use a tiny bit – the last word uses just as much of it as every other ingredient.
Unless you’re a regular at cocktail bars, there’s a good chance you’ve never even heard of chartreuse, much less tasted it.
The short version, is both green chartreuse, and its less potent yellow variant, have been made by Carthusian monks in France since 1737. Different aspects of the spirit are made in different areas, and only two of the monks know the exact recipe.
The whole story is actually pretty fascinating. A couple fun facts are that it’s one of the only spirits that will continue to age in the bottle, and it’s also the only liqueur to have a natural green color. Read more about it here.
But it adds a fantastic herbal quality to drinks, and packs much more of a punch than you’d expect.
In any case, The Last Word is probably the most famous cocktail to use green Chartreuse.
How to Make The Last Word Cocktail
The Last Word is a drink that I’ll serve to just about anyone.
If someone thinks they don’t like gin? I’ll make them this.
They want citrus, but don’t want a daiquiri or marg? Last Word.
If they want something unique that maybe they haven’t had? Boom.
They want something strong to get the night started? This is punchier than you think it’ll be.
So how do you make it? Easy.
Take 3/4 ounce each of gin, lime, maraschino liqueur, and green chartreuse, shake with ice, double strain into a coupe.
Simple as that.
This is great if your hosting people because you can easily double up the recipe, and make two at a time.
Personally, just for ease I usually just use an ounce of each to keep it simple. But when I do this, I shake a little bit longer to give a little bit of extra dilution.
The only downside to this drink as far as I’m concerned is that it can be slightly expensive. Chartreuse isn’t cheap. Here in Oregon for a 750ml bottle, it’s around 65 bucks. And with maraschino in the $30 range – you’re looking at over $100 just in ingredients to get started. And if it becomes a regular? You’ll go through that green chartreuse pretty quick.
But it’s so worth it.
Anyway, there you go, The Last Word. It’s versatile, a change of pace, and if you’re looking to branch into something slightly more unique than the classics, but is still easy to make? This is the perfect starting point.
The Last Word Cocktail
- Hawthorne Strainer
- .75 oz Gin
- .75 oz Lime Juice
- .75 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- .75 oz Green Chartreuse
- Combine all ingredients to cocktail shaker
- Add ice and shake vigorously until very cold.
- Strain into chilled coupe glass