Well, St. Patrick’s Day is coming, and despite being contrived and hokey, I have been researching green cocktails. But I was looking (praying?) for a green drink that was not artificially green, minty or nasty. A search for St. Patrick’s day cocktails did not really solve the problem, in fact it was pretty depressing. So I figured that I would approach the problem backwards and look for a decent green ingredient and build from there.
That led me pretty quickly to Chartueuse, another of those strong, medicinal European liqueurs that pop up in many traditional cocktails. Chartreuse is made in France by Carthusian Monks (gotta love the French, even the monks). Made from a secret formula with the extracts from over 130 plants, Chartreuse is, not surprisingly, green. It is strong stuff (100 proof), sweet and features intense herbal flavors. I would not drink this stuff straight. And Chartreuse isn’t cheap either, at about 30 bucks for a small bottle. But I made the plunge and bought some, figuring it will last a while. And I am glad I did, because I got to make this week’s drink, the Last Word, and it is good, real good.
Researching cocktails using Chartreuse brought me pretty quickly to the Last Word. The drink was invented during prohibition and was very popular, but as often happens with cocktails, it somehow fell out of favor. But over the last few years the Last Word was rediscovered by mixologists in Seattle and New York and is now reemerging from its long popular slumber. It’s a good thing too, the Last Word is a unique cocktail.
The Last Word combines gin, lime juice, Maraschino and Chartreuse in equal proportions. Now this may sound like a train wreck, but it magically works. This is one of the better “old time” cocktails we have tried. A bit sweet, sour and herbal with a nice clean finish. And the light celery green color is not only pretty, but gives us a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail we can actually enjoy.
This recipe uses dry gin, but many mixologists use genever-style gin or even rye. I liked the gin, Carolyn liked the rye. You can also substitute lemon juice for the limes, particularly if using rye (this variation is called the Last Ward). Regardless of the spirit used we still found the same balanced, original flavors. This drink is worth making at home, even if you have to go get some Chartreuse and Maraschino.
The Last Word:
Notes Before You Start:
- You should be able to find Chartreuse at most liquor stores. You want Green Chartreuse (there is also Yellow Chartreuse, good stuff, but not needed here).
- ¾ oz. dry gin
- ¾ oz. Green Chartreuse
- ¾ oz. Maraschino liqueur
- ¾ oz. Lime Juice
1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and then strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Serve.