When it comes to flavor, the drink with the declarative swagger of a moniker lives up to its name. Made with gin, fresh squeezed lime juice, maraschino liqueur and green Chartreuse, The Last Word is a balance of sweet-and-sour with a robust herbaceous tone.
If it were a wine, it would be a full body red.
– Tan Vinh, Seattle Times
Invented in Detroit just before prohibition, the last word first graced the menu at the Detroit Athletic Club. The athletic club was once a club for rich men. Now it’s a club for rich people of both sexes. It still serves the drink today: original price, $.35. Price today… more than $.35. The Last Word lingered on through prohibition before fading into obscurity after the Second World War. Before it left the stage, Ted Saucier captured the recipe in his 1951 book Bottoms Up!
Fast forward 50 years. In Seattle, Murray Stenson was working at the Zig Zag Cafe and thumbing through old cocktail books. He came across the Last Word in Ted Saucier’s book, got his hands on Green Chartreuse, and set about creating the drink. The cocktail quickly exploded in popularity and his bar attracted a cult following. Murray went on to win the best bartender in America award at Tales of the Cocktail in 2010. He’s still very humble, and very focused on the enjoyment of his guests, and he left Zig Zag in part to escape the attention.
The Last Word is an interesting drink because each of the ingredients is so powerful that it shouldn’t really work. Syrupy and sweet, Luxardo maraschino liquor is often too strong for cocktails, though it’s lovely in an Aviation. Powerfully herbal, with over 130 different types of herbs, chartreuse has a powerful flavor. Add equal parts gin and lime juice to the mix and you have something that shouldn’t work… but it just does.
- .75 oz Green Chartreuse (VEP is great)
- .75 oz Gin (St. Georges Terroir Gin is great)
- .75 oz Maraschino Liquor (Luxardo)
- .75 oz Lime Juice
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker
- Strain into cocktail glass and serve