The 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 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 bars cocktail recipes into the famous Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.) Due to the drink’s present-day popularity, the DAC researched 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 club’s much larger and 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 the drink was invented somewhere between those two years. The Detroit Metro Times has an excellent 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 “Bottoms Up!” copy. 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.
What Does The Last Word Taste Like?
I love the taste of this cocktail. The Last Word has a clean, bright herbal, cherry, citrus flavor that is wonderful but not for everyone. If you have ever had Green Chartreuse before and are not a fan, this cocktail will not change your mind. the Green Chartreuse flavor is not too strong, but it’s still the most forward flavor.
Most Important Ingredient.
The most essential 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 unique herbal flavor that any more strong herbal flavor is too much. The lime juice and Maraschino Liqueur help cut that flavor and add more complexity, but the clean dryness of the gin mellows the drink. I 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.