Last word cocktail garnished with Maraschino cherry

Last Word

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 6, 2022 
The Last Word is a perfectly balanced Gin cocktail. Apart from Gin, it contains equal measures of lime juice, Green Chartreuse, and Maraschino liqueur.

The Last Word became a cult drink in the Seattle area 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 drink became an instant success. And within no time, the cocktail got served everywhere around Seattle and Portland. From there, it then made its way across the globe and into mixology books.

But Stenson did not invent the drink. In fact, the Last Word is a lot older but somehow became forgotten. Read on to learn more about the drinks' history and how to make it the right way.

Ingredients of the Last Word

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 ingredients. However, I prefer the more traditional version and put a little more emphasis on the Gin part. 

In doing so, the choice of Gin also becomes more important than in an equal parts approach. Therefore, I will address the question of the best Gin for the Last Word in a second.

Last Word

The other three components are lime juice, Maraschino liqueur, and Green Chartreuse:

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.

And only one quick note regarding the lime juice: Make it freshly squeezed to get the perfect Last Word cocktail.

The best Gin for making the Last Word

The taste of the Last Word highly depends on the choice of Gin. In the drinks early days, a homemade Bathtub Gin usually went in. -And at the Detroit Athletic Club, they still use a homemade re-creation of the original Bathtub Gin.

But don't worry, you don't have to mix up your own Gin to make this drink work. 

Of the many types of Gin, I recommend opting for a classic Dry or London Dry Gin. Beefeater, for example. 

Last Word

Still, it does not hurt to experiment a bit. 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.

History of the Last Word cocktail

In 2004, when Murray Stenson looked for a new cocktail for the menu of Zig Zag café, he checked Ted Saucier's cocktail book Bottoms Up

Instantly intrigued by that one recipe, Stenson decided to put the cocktail on the menu of the bar.

Origin of the Last Word cocktail

Saucier's book was published more than 50 years before this day, back in 1951. And although that is the first time the drink got mentioned in a cocktail book, the recipe is even older. 

A lot older, to be precise. The Last Word is a prohibition-era cocktail. Most likely, one Mr. Frank Fogarty invented it at the Detroit Athletic Club around 1920.

Last Word

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 of Gin, 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.

Equal measures or more Gin?

The beauty of this drink is that, apart from the Gin, all parts are equally measured. That makes preparing this drink super easy. 

In some modern recipes, you can find an all-equal measure approach. However, in my opinion, those versions are slightly underpowered in terms of the Gin.

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."

Variations of the classic recipe

Creating riffs on classic recipes is common practice amongst bartenders. You can, for instance, try the Paper Plane cocktail, an established riff following the template of the Last Word but asking for very different ingredients.

Paper Plane Cocktail

And replacing the Last Word's base spirit with something else is another great way to do create a riff. 

Just like with the Negroni, you can create delicious twists by simply replacing Gin with something very different. I suggest trying a Mezcal-based version or one based on Rum or Rhum Agricole.

With Mezcal, you get a smoky, earthy version of the cocktail. When experimenting with Rhum Agricole, you will create a way more grassy type of drink instead.

Last word cocktail garnished with Maraschino cherry

Last Word

A delicious and perfectly balanced cocktail based on Gin.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gin
Servings: 1
Calories: 225kcal
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Dry Gin
  • 0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 0.75 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • 0.75 oz Lime juice

Instructions

  • 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).

Nutrition

Serving: 4oz | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.75g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 1.5mg | Potassium: 29.75mg | Sugar: 9.03g | Vitamin C: 8.5mg | Calcium: 3.5mg | Iron: 0.03mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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