Dynamic Duo: The Last Word & The Aviation

The Last Word is a cocktail from the prohibition era, that originated at the Detroit Athletic Club, a private social club and athletic club located in the heart of Detroit’s theater, sports, and entertainment district.

While the ingredients may seem to some to be mutually exclusive, the drink works in the same way that many great cocktails do. A variation on the popular “sour” recipe (Base Liquor + citrus +sweetener), The Last Word adds green chartreuse, a French liqueur made by Carthusian monks since the 1740s. It is a naturally flavored, herbal liqueur with over 130 ingredients. To this drink it adds the ever popular “herbal note” and balances the stated presence of the maraschino nicely. To remove the chartreuse from the would leave you with the base ingredients for The Aviation, to which, after some adjusting ingredient proportions, purists would add a dash of Creme de Violette, which gives the aviation its sky blue color.

During prohibition, liquor quality was seriously lacking. With bathtub gin, and whisky smuggled in from Canada, exotic liqueurs and new juices were needed to mask off flavors and poor distillation methods. Now, with the addition of quality gins from all over the world, these two cocktails originally developed to mask flavors, take on new flavors of their own. They are two cocktails that helped spawn the current craft cocktail revolution, and any serious mixologist would be remiss to forget their importance. Naturally, they are both very delicious, and work well for my palate in the summertime. 

Here, I share with you my favorite recipes of the two drinks:

Last Word

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur

Shake well with ice, and strain into chilled cocktail glass. It should be noted that I prefer Luxardo Maraschino in this cocktail (and most others), because it is considerably drier than other maraschinos, but I have a bottle of Maraska that I bought some time ago and will be using this until it is depleted. It is considerably sweeter and more syrupy IMO, but you can make your own decisions on the matter.

The Aviation

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce Creme de Violette
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

Shake well with ice, and strain into chilled cocktail glass. This recipe is from Gary Regan, and can always be adjusted to taste. I prefer my sours balanced, but a little extra lemon in here is okay by me. Maraschino is powerfully floral stuff, not to mention the Violette, which can cause any drink to smell and taste like grandma’s bath soap if use too liberally. I have been known to add a dash or two only of the Violette. A tablespoon = .5 oz, and a teaspoon is a 1/3 of a tablespoon, so a barspoon of Violette is about .16 oz, or about 3-4 dashes. 

a votre sante!

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