Last Word

As we prepare to say goodbye to a challenging year, what better way to raise a glass than with the aptly named “Last Word”? But let’s not limit its merits to nomenclature; this cocktail has taken its place among my favorites.

Much like the Aviation, the Last Word has experienced the ebb and flow of popularity throughout its history, and it finds its technical category as a gin sour.

Often associated with the Prohibition era, its inception actually predates this turbulent time, emerging in 1915 at the Detroit Athletic Club. Uncommonly pricey for its time, the inclusion of green Chartreuse, an intriguing and not-so-economical spirit, contributed to its exclusivity. Chartreuse, with its captivating history and intricate production, holds its own allure, as I’ve explored in another piece.

However, despite its initial luxury price tag, the Last Word swiftly transcended the club’s boundaries and became a hit in New York City, thanks in part to Frank Fogarty. A stand-up comedian rather than a professional bartender, Fogarty introduced the cocktail to a wider audience. Though his role as the cocktail’s creator remains uncertain, he undoubtedly popularized it.

The recipe for the Last Word was first documented in Ted Saucier’s cocktail compendium, “Bottoms Up.”

Post-World War II, like many of its contemporary cocktails, the Last Word sank into obscurity. It took the 21st century cocktail renaissance to unearth and revive this gem, starting in 2004 when Murray Stenson, a bartender at Seattle’s Zig Zag Café, stumbled upon it in Saucier’s book. His decision to feature it on the menu sparked a resurgence in Seattle, which soon spread like wildfire, capturing the hearts of cocktail enthusiasts across the United States and beyond.

The Last Word, reborn and rejuvenated, now graces cocktail menus in major cities worldwide since 2008.

The IBA recipe.

3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Dry Gin
3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Fresh Lime Juice

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a brandied cherry.

Cocktail glass

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