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The Last Word Cocktail: Simple. Refreshing. Herbaceous.

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last word cocktail

What’s the word on the Last Word?!

The Last Word is a pre-prohibition era cocktail—A simple, equal parts recipe composed of gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur, and fresh lime juice.

The First Last Word Cocktail

All cocktails have a story. Many include ambiguity and controversy. The Last Word is no exception.

Most cocktail historians agree that the Last Word made its first appearance at the Detroit Athletic Club in—you guessed it—Detroit, Michigan. The club sent its members souvenir menus, and the Last Word made its debut in a 1916 edition.

If you rummage through the internet about the history of the Last Word (don’t worry, we’ve done it for you!), you’ll see many mention a vaudeville actor named Frank Fogarty. Frank was from New York City but performed at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1919. Some sources say the drink was named after Frank’s act…since he often had the last laugh or “last word” in his performances.

Did he invent the drink? Probably not. But he almost definitely brought the recipe back to New York with him where it began to take hold in the cocktail scene.

The Last Word enjoyed popularity for years but fell off the map sometime after World War II. It appeared in Ted Saucier’s book Bottoms Up!—published in 1951—but didn’t really come back into cocktail consciousness until 2004.

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[Just getting into bartending books? check out The Best Bartending Book To Start Your Collection With]

The Last Word As We Know It

Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Café came across Saucier’s book in 2004 and popularized the modern version of this delicious libation.

In 2007, cocktail historian David Wondrich dubbed The Last Word:

“The Holy Grail of Prohibition Era mixology.”

in his book Imbibe!.

Though at first glance, the last word may seem like an average sour or sweet drink, once you drink it one fact becomes clear: there is nothing average about The Last Word. The complex flavors dance around your palate and make you wonder what’s in this drink that makes it so good.

It’s one of those drinks whose simplicity belies a perfect balance among its ingredients.

The Last Word can now be found on cocktail menus in almost every major city. If you stick to tradition, you’ll see it made with gin. Twists on the classic certainly exist though; take the Last Ward for example, which subs the gin for rye. Or, one of our favorites: The First Word by our own Nathan Caudle.

The Last Word’s equal parts ‘formula’ is malleable. Don’t be afraid to use it as a canvas on which you can experiment.

Last Word Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5/6oz (25ml) London Dry Gin
  • 5/6oz (25ml) Chartreuse
  • 5/6oz (25ml) Maraschino liqueur
  • 5/6oz (25ml) Lime juice

Method

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake and double strain, neat into a large cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel or brandied cherry. Or, if you’re feeling bold, check out this vid for a simple Last Word Cocktail Hack.

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What Gin Should You Use?

If you’re working with a basic home bar, we recommend Beefeater (any London Dry Gin will do)… otherwise, Gin Mare — a Spanish gin distilled from olives, thyme, rosemary, and basil is a fun option.

Bonus: Last Word Cocktail Garnish Hack

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Author

  • Ashley Sampson

    Marketing Coordinator for Nimble Bar Co, Ashley is a long-time service industry hustler, psychology major, and cocktail and wine enthusiast. She enjoys meaningful connections, coming-of-age-stories, and domesticated furry beasts.

Ashley Sampson

Ashley Sampson

Marketing Coordinator for Nimble Bar Co, Ashley is a long-time service industry hustler, psychology major, and cocktail and wine enthusiast. She enjoys meaningful connections, coming-of-age-stories, and domesticated furry beasts.

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