Often, people ask me what my favorite cocktail is. My answer is The Last Word.
Although this is a drink that we actually can’t perfectly replicate virtually, it still deserves it’s own post. I learned so much bartending in downtown Austin at a craft cocktail, and high end wine bar on 6th street. The bar featured the most incredibly curated wine list I’ve ever worked with, beers on tap that no one else in Texas had, and an amaro forward approach to American cocktail recipes.
I’ll admit, I was slightly out of my league when I first started there, but I learned on the job and had to learn fast. The building itself was like a piece of art, both elegant and hip. I remember two times specifically that someone ordered a cocktail I hadn’t heard of before: The Boulevardier and The Last Word.
On a crazy busy Friday night I had to have one of the other bartenders tell me what a Boulevardier was. The guest who ordered it proceeded to school me on The Last Word. He told me it’s equal parts Gin, Lime Juice, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and Green Chartreuse. I was familiar with all of those ingredients well enough individually, but at that time I had never thought of them all together.
I shook it up and strained it into a coupe glass. It had a beautiful cloudy light green color, and I garnished it wIth a deep dark red Luxardo Maraschino Cherry that sunk at the bottom. Most people don’t know that craft cocktail bartenders taste each of their drinks as their shift is going along, just like a chef tastes the food that’s going out.
The method is to take a straw and dip it into a cocktail with your finger over the hole at the other end. You can get just enough in the tip of the straw to get the full flavor of the drink and make sure all your components are there in the quantities that you intended so the cocktail I put in front of you is just right. When I dipped my straw into a Last Word for the first time, my mind was blown. It was like a concert in my mouth. A concert with a full band and each ingredient playing its own notes. And it was playing the best song I’d ever tasted.
Gin is like the lead singer of this band, the main ingredient that sets the tone. Luxardo is the drummer holding down the rhythm with the garnish for an elegant finish. The lime juice is the lead guitar that plays in a handful of other bands also, because it’s a staple of a great sound. Finally, Green Chartreuse is the bass player, totally enjoyable on its own, but when you combine it with just the right ingredients it becomes essential. So you may be wondering what green chartreuse and Luxardo liqueur are, or how citrus brings these unique and elevated flavors together.
Green Chartreuse is a liqueur made from 130 herbs and other plants found in the French Alps macerated in alcohol that give it a naturally green color. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur is a clear cherry liqueur made from Sour Marasca cherries which are exclusively cultivated by the Luxardo family in the orchards of the Euganean Hills in the Veneto region of Italy. The citric-acid sourness of the lime juice is exactly what makes citrus juice such a common choice to pair with spirits. Gin is such a versatile spirit that each Last Word you make will taste slightly different depending on which gin you use.
I encourage all my guests to try new variations and experiment. I’ll even throw in this insider tip: If you like a smoky Mezcal you can substitute that for the gin, for a fun play on the Last Word called “The Ultima Palabra.”
I like drinks that have complex ingredients in equal parts. It gives each component it’s room to breathe and be tasted. Balance is the key word when crafting cocktails. It’s not a cheap investment to stock your home bar with those three bottles, but consider it an investment indeed. WIth those three ingredients, Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino, and your favorite bottle of gin, you can create countless numbers of delicious drinks. Be creative, try new things, and always try a new recipe at least twice. Go to your favorite cocktail bar and ask your bartender if they know how to make a Last Word, and if they don’t, feel free to school them on it just like I was. You may just introduce them to their favorite drink.
Here is the recipe for The Last Word that I teach in class, book your event today!
- 0.75 oz Gin
- 0.75 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- 0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
- 0.75 oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
- Shake in a cocktail shaker with a big scoop of ice, and double strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with Luxardo Maraschino cherry