The Last Word Vintage Cocktail is a 1920’s drink worthy of a comeback! Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur & fresh lime juice make a complex, delicious libation.
The Last Word Vintage Cocktail:
The Last Word is a Prohibition era cocktail that has complex flavors, is served super chilled and is perfect for sipping. It’s poured like a martini and, be forewarned, it really packs a punch! The Last Word is a gin based cocktail that includes two must have additions to your bar: green chartreuse and maraschino liqueur. Because these liqueurs also have very definitive flavors, the gin isn’t overpowering in the drink. Fresh lime juice brightens up the flavors and gives the drink a refreshing tartness.
Shake it Up:
The Last Word vintage cocktail is really easy to make. All of the ingredients are added in equal parts to your cocktail shaker, so you won’t need a recipe once you make your first Last Word. Then again, you might have to refresh your memory if you enjoy more than one of these dangerously delicious cocktails!
The Down Low on the Last Word:
This cocktail is from the gin-joint, speakeasy generation. This was a time of back alley, nondescript doors and secret passwords. When people had to risk jail time during Prohibition to have a drink, they wanted a strong one! The Last Word was created at the Detroit Athletic Club around 1916. A menu from that year lists the cost of the drink at .35 cents, which made it the most expensive cocktail at the club.
Green chartreuse is a vital ingredient in this drink. It’s a liqueur with a cult following and is definitely back in favor with bartenders. Look at the drink menu in your favorite cocktail bar, and you’ll probably see green chartreuse listed as an ingredient in a drink or two. Chartreuse is named for the order of monks in France who have distilled this “elixir” since the 1700’s. There are over 130 plants and herbs used in their process and only two monks at a time know the exact recipe! I’m assuming they don’t travel together.
The elixir was initially meant to be used for medicinal purposes, but the monks soon realized people were drinking it for pleasure. They capitalized on this and began selling a milder form of their medicine as a liqueur. There is also a yellow chartreuse which is sweeter and has less alcohol content, 80 proof as opposed to 110 proof (!) for the green version.
Maraschino liqueur is another liqueur that has been in production for hundreds of years. The current day version is actually based on a liqueur that was produced in convents in medieval times! Apparently monks and nuns really know their liquor, or more likely, have the patience to nurture the process of making a complex liqueur. The Luxardo family has been making maraschino liqueur since 1821 and selling it in it’s distinctive straw wrapped bottle.
They began production in what is now Croatia, but during World War II, their distillery was bombed. Only one family member survived and managed to escape with a cherry tree and the family recipe book. They rebuilt their factory in Italy after the war and have continued producing maraschino liqueur to this day.
When I read that maraschino liqueur was an ingredient in the Last Word, I assumed the liqueur would be bright red and taste like cherries. Neither of these assumptions were correct! I guess it’s true what they say about making assumptions… This surprising liqueur is actually clear and does not have a strong cherry flavor, even though it’s distilled from sour cherries. Cherry pits are added to the distillation process (among other things), and the pits give it a slight almond taste. The company’s tasting notes say it “has a rounded flavor with notes of cherries and rosewater”.
If you’re looking for another place to try out your maraschino liqueur, I also use it in my double citrus margarita martini!
Once you have your gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice ready to go, make sure to use a cocktail shaker filled with ice to get the Last Word really cold.
The Last Word vintage cocktail is complex, sweet, sour and strong! If you take a sip and close your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself carousing in the back room of a roaring twenties speakeasy.
- 2 oz dry gin - I like Bombay Sapphire
- 2 oz green chartreuse liqueur (there is only one source - the monks!)
- 2 oz maraschino liqueur - I like Luxardo
- 2 oz fresh lime juice, about one lime, plus extra lime wedges for garnish
- Fill your cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add all ingredients to the shaker and shake until ice cold.
- Pour into your favorite martini glasses and enjoy responsibly!