Happy Hour History: The Last Word

Drink Features
Share Tweet Submit Pin

Lost, found, lost again, and recently rediscovered, the Last Word is a cocktail worth remembering. It’s a classic Prohibition-era quaffer, originally designed to hide the noxious bathtub gins of the day, that still holds up thanks to its mysterious and potent ingredients.

The story of the Last Word begins at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1916 — the most expensive gym membership you’ve ever paid for and only used twice.

detroit club.jpg
Seven floors and you still can’t find a free elliptical!

While the popular story credits vaudeville actor Frank Fogarty with the cocktail’s creation, DAC documents prove the club was mixing up the drink a full year before Fogarty even set foot in the Motor City. A favorite at the club, the cocktail never really caught on anywhere else.

Flash forward to 1951, and the Last Word is all but forgotten save for a mention in Ted Saucier’s Bottoms Up drink guide. From here the recipe collected dust until Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Café unearthed a copy of Saucier’s book in 2004 bringing the Last Word into the modern era.

The Last Word mixes gin, Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur with fresh lime juice creating a surprisingly well-balanced cocktail from such a heady combination of flavors. This is a cocktail best served ice-cold and drunk in moderation, as it’s one potent potable despite its easy drinkability.

The Last Word Recipe

3/4 oz. gin
3/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. green Chartreuse
3/4 oz. lime juice

Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake for 10-20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass.

Enjoy while listening to this.

Jim Sabataso is a writer, part-time bartender, and full-time cocktail enthusiast living in Vermont. Follow him on Twitter @JimSabataso.