The Last Word became a trending drink around Seattle in the mid to late 2000s. The reason for this was bartender Murray Stenson, who added the cocktail to the bar menu of Zig Zag café in Seattle Downtown.
The high-proof drink became an instant success, and within no time, bars everywhere around Seattle and Portland put the chic gin cocktail on their menus.
Quick Facts Last Word Cocktail
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: boozy, sour, dry
- How to serve it: straight up
- Glassware: coupe glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 27% ABV, 30 grams of alcohol per serving
The Last Word is a lot older, though, and one of the vintage cocktails that were forgotten over time. Read on to learn more about the drink's history and how to make it the right way.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 1.5 oz Dry Gin
- 0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
- 0.75 oz Maraschino liqueur
- 0.75 oz Lime juice
- Add all ingredients into your cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake until well-chilled.1.5 oz Dry Gin, 0.75 oz Green Chartreuse, 0.75 oz Maraschino liqueur, 0.75 oz Lime juice
- Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass (without ice).
- You can garnish the drink with a Maraschino cherry (optional).
The Last Word cocktail is a classic drink with four ingredients classified as one of the Unforgettables by the IBA. The IBA calls for equal parts of all four elements. However, I prefer the more traditional version and put a little more emphasis on the Gin part:
- Gin: A mid-shelf dry gin like Beefeater is a good option here. The choice of gin becomes more important than in an equal parts approach, though. Thus, we address the question of the best gin below in more detail.
- Maraschino liqueur is a high-proof, clear-colored liqueur flavored with Marasca cherries. It has a distinctly dry and slightly bitter taste of cherries and almonds.
- Green Chartreuse is an overproof French herbal liqueur based on wine. It has a naturally achieved green color and is made with 130 herbs, plants, flowers, and spices.
- Lime juice: Make it freshly squeezed for a perfect Last Word cocktail.
The Best Gin for Making the Last Word Cocktail
Of the many types of gin, I recommend opting for a classic Dry or London Dry Gin. Beefeater, for example. The taste of the Last Word highly depends on the choice of gin, so it's vital that you use a quality spirit.
In the drinks early days, a homemade Bathtub Gin usually went in. -At the Detroit Athletic Club, the birthplace of the recipe, they still use a homemade re-creation of the original Bathtub Gin, although surely one of better quality.
But don't worry, you don't have to mix up your own gin to make this drink work. Although, with this recipe, it does not hurt to experiment.
Palates are different, and by trying different Gins in the Last Word, you will realize just how delightful the cocktail actually is. It always feels well-balanced and always nicely reflects the base ingredient.
Equal Measures or More Gin?
The beauty of the original Last Word recipe is that, apart from the gin, all parts are equally measured. That makes preparing this drink super easy.
In modern recipes, you can even find an all-equal measure approach. However, in my opinion, those versions are slightly underpowered in the gin department.
By pronouncing the gin part, the drink becomes this beautiful and perfectly balanced cocktail. Audrey Saunders, the famous bartender who invented the Old Cuban Cocktail, describes it as follows:
"I love the sharp, pungent drinks, and this has a good bite. It's a great palate cleanser. And it's perfectly balanced: A little sour, a little sweet, a little pungent."Audrey Saunders
Variations of the classic recipe
The most obvious variation is to apply said equal measures approach. In this case, you just use 0.75 oz of the four ingredients in our recipes.
Replacing the Last Word's base spirit with something else is another great way to create a riff. I suggest trying a mezcal-based version or one based on Rum or Rhum Agricole.
Creating more experimental riffs on classic recipes is common practice among bartenders. You can, for instance, try the Paper Plane cocktail, an established variation following the template of the Last Word but asking for very different ingredients. - Aperol, bourbon, lemon juice, and Nonino, either in equal parts or you can consider emphazising the bourbon.
History of the Last Word Cocktail
In 2004, when bartender Murray Stenson - one of the best mixologists in the US- looked for a new cocktail for the menu of his Zig Zag café in Seattle, he checked Ted Saucier's cocktail book Bottoms Up.
Instantly intrigued by the Last Word recipe, Stenson decided to put the cocktail on the menu of the bar.
Saucier's book was published more than 50 years before, back in 1951. And although that is the first time the drink got mentioned in a cocktail book, the recipe is even older.
The Last Word is a prohibition-era cocktail. Probably, one Mr. Frank Fogarty invented it at the Detroit Athletic Club around 1920. And Fogarty really did a brilliant job because he developed the cocktail during prohibition when spirits were hard to get hold of.
The original recipe called for the so-called Bathtub Gin. A homemade type, commonly produced by infusing vodka with various herbs and botanicals. And when made in larger batches, the vodka-herb-mix was often installed in a bathtub - hence the name.
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