A lot of gin-based cocktails were invented in American during the Prohibition era; this was mainly because whiskey and bourbon manufacture had been stopped, and importing them was very difficult and dangerous. Instead, home-made gin was at almost everyone’s disposition; the only problem was that Americans weren’t used to drinking this alcohol, and many found the taste unbearable. This led them to mix the gin with other beverages and drinks, and create a series of cocktails which are very popular today. One of the most interesting mixed drinks created in that period was The Last Word cocktail, at the Detroit Athletic Club.
Interestingly enough, The Last Word cocktail lost its popularity after a while, only to gain a renewed interest when bartender Murray Stentson rediscovered it and started serving it at the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle. We need to go back to the beginnings however, and mention that the cocktail was invented sometime during the 1920s. It is not known what happened afterwards, but it resurfaced in popularity when when Frank Fogarty, a well-known vaudevillian at the time, brought the drink to New York; in 1951, the recipe was also published in Bottoms Up!, one of the most important mixed drinks books, written by Ted Saucier.
If you want to prepare The Last Word cocktail at home, nothing could be simpler; here are the ingredients:
All the ingredients are poured together in a shaker filled with ice, and well shaken before being strained into a cocktail glass. The drink is served straight, without ice, and a garnish is sometimes used, though generally there is none. The appropriate garnish is lime peel of course. The resulting drink has to have a pale greenish hue. An interesting fact is that various preparations of this cocktail will result in different tastes depending on the kind of gin you use. Originally, this was made with bathtub gin, or moonshine, and the taste must have been very coarse.
This harsh potency may be what gave it its name as well, in the sense that the drink has “the last word”, or that you;ll not be able to talk after you drink it. The Last Word cocktail suffered many variations as well, with some people preferring to replace the gin with vodka or other alcohols; some even replace the lime with lemons. A more popular variation is The Last Ward, created by bartender Phil Ward, who in his recipe uses rye whiskey instead of gin and lemon juice instead of lime juice.