If I am out to dinner (yes, I vaguely remember what going out was like) and a cocktail with green Chartreuse is on the menu, I will, without fail, order it. This delightfully herbaceous, naturally green liqueur is made by French monks from a secret, 400-year-old recipe. The process is shrouded in mystery as well, though it is known that Chartreuse is made with 130 botanicals aged for years in oak casks and placed in the world’s longest liquor cellar until mature. Oh, and it is deceptively strong. 110 proof … which I was not aware of the first time I tried it.
One of my favorite Chartreuse cocktails is The Last Word, a classic pre-prohibition cocktail first served at the Detroit Athletic Club in the early 1900’s. Complex and perfectly balanced with sour, sweet, bitter, and herbal notes, The Last Word is made with equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice. I like to make mine with Sipsmith’s Lemon Drizzle Gin (don’t let the words “Lemon Drizzle” scare you—this is a fabulous London Dry gin infused with lemon peel and citrus botanicals, not sweetened).
The Luxardo maraschino cherry garnish is optional, but I wouldn’t skip it. Luxardo cherries are nothing like the cloyingly sweet, waxy maraschinos found in the Shirley Temples of your youth, though they do bring nostalgic satisfaction when you slide one into your mouth from a swizzle stick.
The Last Word
- cocktail shaker
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 1/2 ounces green Chartreuse
- 1 1/2 ounces maraschino liqueur (I recommend Luxardo)
- 1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
- Luxardo cherries, for garnish optional
- Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake until well chilled.
- Strain into two chilled cocktail glasses.
- Garnish with Luxardo cherries threaded onto cocktail picks, if desired.