History Of The Last Word
Invented at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC), sometime before 1916, the last word survived thanks to a New York stage actor. The last word is often credited with having been invented by Frank Fogarty, but, after research done by the DAC itself, the last word was actually invented sometime before Frank Fogarty brought it to New York. Frank Fogarty was a vaudeville actor in New York during the earlier part of the 20th century and is credited in Ted Saucier’s 1951 book “Bottom’s Up!” for having “introduced [The Last Word] around here [New York] about thirty years ago”. (Ted Saucier took over historical records and publications for The Waldorf-Astoria after Albert Stevens Crockett. A.S. Crockett is the person who compiled the original Waldorf-Astoria’s bars cocktail recipes into the famous Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.) Due to the drinks present day popularity the DAC did a bit of research and found an old 1916 decorative souvenir menu with the last word listed for 35 cents. The menu was most likely printed to celebrate the clubs much larger and much more impressive new building on Madison Avenue in 1915. It is unknown if the last word predates the 1916 souvenir menu and if so, by how much. The club first opened in 1887, so somewhere between those two years the drink was invented. The Detroit Metro Times has a very good article about the Last Word it reprinted with the DAC permission that was first published in a 2015 edition of The Detroit Athletic Club Magainze.
The cocktail wasn’t commonly made again until 2003 when Seattle bartender Murray Stenson found a copy of “Bottoms Up!”. He added this forgotten cocktail to his Seattle bar’s drink menu and it was a hit. The Last Word became popular in the Pacific Northwest, eventually was made on television as the hot new Seattle cocktail and soon spread to the rest of the country.
How Does It Taste
I personally love the taste of this cocktail. The Last Word has a clean bright herbal, cherry, citrus flavor that is wonderful but unfortunately not for everyone. If you have ever had Green Chartreuse before and are not a fan then this cocktail will not change your mind. the Green Chartreuse flavor is not too strong but its still the most forward flavor.
Most important Ingredient
The most important ingredient in the Last Word cocktail is the gin. The dryness of the gin is what saves this cocktail from being way too flavorful and herbaceous. The drier and cleaner the gin is the better. Don’t use a fancy flavorful sipping gin in this cocktail, because the Green Chartreuse is already such a strong unique herbal flavor that any more strong herbal flavor is just too much. The lime juice and Maraschino Liqueur help cut that flavor and add more complexity but its the clean dryness of the gin that mellows the drink. I personally feel using vodka instead of gin makes for a more balanced cocktail, but the classic recipe calls for dry gin. Something like a Bombay dry gin (normal Bombay, not Sapphire) and Beefeater work very well in this.
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