The Last Word Cocktail
This clean, classic cocktail is beautifully balanced. Plenty herbal, a little astringent, a little acidic, and just a touch sweet, it’s a perfect way to bid farewell to summer.
It's not quite as classic, but you could batch this cocktail in a pitcher for a party. Either shake individually before serving or (gasp!) put some ice in the pitcher to slow-melt.
The last word on summer
We are hitting fall HARD this year. Driving the first-born up to boarding school as we speak. Hosting a big performing arts charity event on my birthday. (Come!) Launching the new Umami Girl before Thanksgiving if it murders me in cold blood. Even going to Havana! It’s gonna be a lot. And I’m game.
But first, the last word on summer. Whether you shut it down for the season on Labor Day or September 22, there’s definitely still time for one more cocktail.
The Last Word cocktail
The Last Word is a Prohibition-era drink made with equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, Luxardo and fresh lime juice. It’s easy to make and to scale up due to the simple measurements, but its simplicity belies a perfectly balanced, sophisticated flavor profile. Despite this drink’s cool 100 years of history, I hadn’t heard of it until July, when my friend Ryan introduced me to it in Lithuania. (Does the end of that sentence balance out the beginning? Let’s say it does.)
To be fair, the recipe seems to have slipped into oblivion from about 1930 to 2004, but that’s no reason to have lived without it for the past 13 summers.
Anyway, what’s done is done. Shall we start now?
Since 1605, Chartreuse has been produced in France by Carthusian monks from a secret recipe that includes 130 plants. Green Chartreuse, the original product, rings in at 110 proof and is stronger and less sweet than the lesser-known yellow variety. It adds spicy, herbal, and sweet characteristics to this cocktail.
Since 1821, Luxardo maraschino liqueur has been produced in Italy from sour Marasco cherries (which have virtually nothing to do with what you may think of as maraschino cherries). It’s clear, relatively dry for a liqueur, and has more pleasant, complex bitterness and almond notes (from the crushed cherry pits used to make it) than cherry flavor.
Just for fun: since this is a Prohibition-era cocktail, it would have been made with bathtub gin. (I prefer Bombay Sapphire, but who’s counting.) You probably know that bathtub gin is the name for just about any cheap alcohol made at home by amateurs. But did you know that the “bathtub” comes from the fact that bottles used during Prohibition tended to be too tall to top off with water in the sink, so they were filled in the bathtub? I’d always kinda pictured bathtubs full of homemade liquor. Which makes no sense, since you need a closed container to make gin. Maybe that was just me. But in case not, now you know.
Let’s wrap up summer in style.
Talk to you soon.
- One ounce gin
- One ounce green Chartreuse
- One ounce Luxardo
- One ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Pour ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker.
- Shake well.
- Strain into a cocktail glass to serve.
- Garnish with lime rind if you like.