November 8, 2011 / 3:41 PM / 6 years ago

The Spirited Traveller: Having the last word in Detroit

(Kara Newman is the author of "Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails", available <here >. The opinions expressed are her own.)

By Kara Newman

NEW YORK, Nov 8, (Reuters) - Detroit has a number of famous exports: Automobiles; Motown; and - who knew - The Last Word cocktail.

If you’re not familiar with The Last Word, ask any bartender. This potent Prohibition-era tipple, made with gin and a mash-up of slightly obscure liqueurs (Green Chartreuse and Luxardo Maraschino) is seriously beloved in mixology circles.

And yes, it comes from Detroit. Specifically, it was created at the Detroit Athletic Club (www.thedac.com), says Chris Brock, who is their beverage manager. It's still on offer today in the DAC's members-only Tap Room.

The cocktail is attributed to Frank Fogarty, described as “a very fine monologue artist”; some say that’s how the drink got its name. Fogarty brought it to New York, says Brock, but the drink was lost to history until Seattle barman Murray Stenson discovered it in Ted Saucier’s classic cocktail book “Bottoms Up” a few years ago and re-popularised the drink. As the cocktail renaissance swept across the nation, The Last Word returned home to Detroit’s burgeoning bar scene.

Brock advises trying the concoction at Cliff Bell's (www.cliffbells.com/), a fully restored 1930s era "Supper Club" featuring some of the best jazz in Detroit and a catalogue of creative and innovative cocktails; "modern cocktail house" The Motor Bar in the Book Cadillac building; or the art-deco inspired Centaur (www.centaurbar.com), within walking distance of several Detroit theatres and sports venues.

Just remember that The Last Word may go down easy, but it sure does pack a punch. Drink too many of them, and the cocktail surely will have the last word.

RECIPE: The Last Word

(Courtesy of Chris Brock, Detroit Athletic Club)

The DAC makes the drink with their own house brand of “Prohibition-style bathtub gin” (100 proof vodka infused with spices, herbs and citrus), named for the speakeasy that sat behind the club during the Prohibition years. But this should work well with a commercial London Dry-style gin such as Tanqueray. ¾ oz DAC “Annex” Gin ¾ oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice ¾ oz Green Chartreuse ¾ oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel. (Editing by Peter Myers and Paul Casciato)

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