The Last Word Cocktail: Two Variations with Sunday Gin

The Last Word, like the Negroni is an equal parts cocktail, but with the added fourth ingredient being citrus, it is shaken, not stirred. Akin to the Negroni, this drink is also having a sort of renaissance with bartenders and home cocktail enthusiasts alike.

Supposedly born at the Detroit Athletic Club around 1916, the Last Word has become more of a modern classic. It went into relative obscurity until the recipe was dug up by Seattle bartender Murray Stenson in the early 2000s. He discovered it in Ted Saucier’s 1951 cocktail book “Bottoms Up!” (which credited the Detroit Athletic Club), and after adding it to the menu at the Zig Zag Café, word spread and a classic was reborn.

People love an equal parts cocktail. You don’t have to remember proportions; They’re brilliant! There was even an entire book devoted to these recipes, but they don’t always work. The balance has to be just right. And you’d think with such dominant spirits as gin, green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur, that it would all be too much. But somehow that equal parts addition of fresh lime juice sucker punches the rest of those flavors into a bright and herbaceous delight.

I’ve noticed recently that this cocktail is also especially in the zeitgeist at the moment. We are currently in the midst of an international Instagram “event” wherein cocktail enthusiasts and brands and regular ol’ instagrammers are being called upon to create their own riff on this often riffed on cocktail and then post their version. I’ll actually be posting my variations (featured here) right after this post goes up!

I thought that playing with these recipes was a great opportunity for me to experiment with this lovely bottle of Sunday Gin from new San Diego distillery, You and Yours Distilling Co.

Distilled from grapes instead of the usual grain (wheat, barley, rye), the botanicals are softer with a hint more citrus than your typical American style gins. But I found this Sunday Gin was still able to hold up to the other powerhouse flavors in this cocktail. It worked especially well in the Fizz.

My first variation is close to the classic recipe. It was important to keep it equal parts, but I just wanted to sub out the maraschino liqueur for one of my favorite and most versatile liqueurs out there at the moment, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. When working with green Chartreuse you need something that can match its intensity if you don’t want it to dominate. And Barrow’s is the perfect accomplice to this potent spirit.

Intense Last Word
3/4 Sunday Gin
3/4 Green Chartreuse
3/4 Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
3/4 Fresh Lime Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a cooled coupe glass. Garnish with your favorite herb.

For the second variation, I knew that I wanted to make a fizz, still keeping it equal parts of the original ingredients but adding egg white and seltzer to see if that worked. Uh, it does. It SO works.

Refreshing and a little lighter than the classic version, this may very well be what I’ll be sipping this Sunday for Easter brunch. I’m sure you’ll have some extra eggs lying around, right?!

Last Word Fizz
3/4 Sunday Gin
3/4 Green Chartreuse
3/4 Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 Fresh Lime Juice
3/4 Seltzer
1 Egg White

In a cocktail shaker add gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, egg white and lime juice and “dry” shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 20-30 seconds. Strain mixture into an ice-filled highball glass. Pour seltzer into shaker to loosen up remaining froth and then top the cocktail with that. Garnish with your favorite herb.

I'd love to hear what YOU think! Scratch a few thoughts down there, why dontcha?