The Last Word cocktail

Difford's Guide
Discerning Drinkers (818 ratings)

Serve in

Coupe glass

Garnish:

Lime twist (discarded) and Luxardo Maraschino cherry

How to make:

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

1 fl oz Hayman's London Dry Gin
2/3 fl oz Green Chartreuse (or alternative herbal liqueur)
2/3 fl oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2/3 fl oz Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
1/3 fl oz Chilled water (omit if wet ice)
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Review:

Traditionally made with equal parts gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice but, like like many others, (when using a 40%-43% alc./vol. gin,) I like to slightly increase the proportion of gin. Chartreuse devotes will love this balanced, tangy cocktail. I'm one!

History:

The earliest known written reference to the Last Word is among a list of cocktail names in a souvenir menu sent members of the Detroit Athletic Club with the club's July-August 1916 issue of its magazine. There is no accompanying recipe, just the cocktail's name and its respective price among the other cocktails listed, at 35 Cents the Last Word is twice the price of a Manhattan.

The Last Word's link to the Detroit Athletic Club is affirmed by notes accompanying the recipe in Ted Saucier's 1951 cocktail book Bottoms Up!.

LAST WORD
Courtesy Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit
This cocktail was first introduced here around thirty years ago by Frank Fogarty, who was very well known in vaudeville. He was called the 'Dublin Minstrel,' and was a very fine monologue artist.
1/4 dry gin
1/4 maraschino
1/4 chartreuse
1/4 lime juice
Ice
Serve in cocktail glass.

Ted Saucier, 1951

The Detroit Athletic Club, or the DAC, was established in 1887 by a bunch of young athletes with a clubhouse on Detroit's Woodward Avenue. The DAC was then reborn in 1913 by a group of prominent Detroit automotive and industrial leaders who built the magnificent six-story Clubhouse on Madison Avenue which opened in 1915 and remains the home of the club to this day.

Known as the 'The Dublin Minstrel', Frank Fogarty was a famous American theatre entertainer who was born in County Tipperary, Ireland but from the age of two grew up and lived on Warren Street, Brooklyn. He broke into vaudeville (akin to today's stand-up comedy) in 1911 when he performed at the Orpheum in Brooklyn and became famous for his monologues, winning the New York Morning Telegraph contest for the most popular vaudeville performer in 1912. He typically opened his performance with a song and finished with a recitation - some surmise that this is where the drink's Last Word name emanates. Fogarty was quite a speaker, who also dabbled in politics being elected president of the vaudeville actors union in 1914.

Thanks to that July 1916 dated menu it's certain that the Last Word was being served at the DAC at least five months before Fogerty is known to have visited the Club in December 1916.

Saucier's "around thirty years" prior to the 1951 publication date of his book puts Fogerty's "introducing the Last Word around here" circa 1920, a mere four years off when the Last Word appeared in that commemorative menu. And when Saucier says "around here," he means New York City, where his book was published and Fogerty lived and performed. Saucier was also the publicist for New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Hence, we can perhaps assume that Fogerty enjoyed a Last Word cocktail while at the club in December 1916, so much so, that he asked for the recipe to enable him to request the cocktail at bars back in New York. Hence, his "introducing the Last Word around here" [New York] just prior to Prohibition. It could be that, knowing Fogerty was booked to visit that the DAC created the Last Word in his honour, hence its premium price and inclusion in that commemorative menu. I favour the Last Word originating at the DAC to the other theory, that Fogerty introduced the cocktail to the DAC during an earlier visit.

The Last Word continued to be popular after Prohibition and so found its way into in Ted Saucier's book. However, like so many cocktails the Last Word fell out of favour to be forgotten. That was until 2003, when Murray Stenson, a bartender at the Zig Zag Café in Seattle, USA found the recipe in a 1952 copy of Saucier's book. Murray added the cocktail to the menu at the Zig Zag Café where it was well-received by regulars. As Tan Vinh wrote in The Seattle Times on 11th March 2009, "The drink became a cult hit around Seattle, then Portland and was eventually picked up at cocktail dens in New York City, where many bartending trends are set. The Last Word then started to appear on drink menus in Chicago and San Francisco and spread to several cities in Europe - especially around London and Amsterdam - and beyond."

Over on America's East Coast, when Audrey Saunders opened Manhattan's Pegu Club in 2005, the Last Word was one of the cocktails championed by her team, including Phil Ward, the man responsible for both the Division Bell and the Final Ward, the best-known riff on the Last Word.

The DAC was made aware of the Last Word cocktail when a Seattle newspaper asked about the popular cocktail that was so popular in Seattle. The DAC embraced the Last Word cocktail, returning it to its menu in 2009 and even adding a rooftop lounge under the same name.

Alcohol content:

  • 1.7 standard drinks
  • 24% alc./vol. (48° proof)
  • 24 grams of pure alcohol
Difford's Guide remains free-to-use thanks to the support of the brands in green above. Values stated for alcohol and calorie content, and number of drinks an ingredient makes should be considered approximate.

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Buy direct from
the_whisky_exchange store logo
£ -.--

Makes a minimum of ... cocktails
Just £ -.-- per cocktail*

* This list may not include all required ingredients.
Price per cocktail is an estimate based on the cost of making one cocktail with the available ingredients shown above and does not include any postage charges.
Buy direct from Difford’s Guide
Difford's Easy Jigger
£8.72 £8.72 exc VAT
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