ORIGINAL COCKTAILS: THE LAST WORD Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Consider the Old Fashioned: deep, muddled, musky and, thanks to Don Draper and his imaginary colleagues, fashionable once again.

Or the White Russian: dark, rich, creamy and, thanks to a 15-year-old movie, still unfailingly popular.

Could they be the most perfect of cocktails?

What about the Martini? To the most fastidious of cocktail connoisseurs, the Martini’s most certainly most perfect. In fact, for them, nothing really compares (they’ll also insist that there’s no such thing as a vodka Martini).

But if those are but examples of perfect and near-perfect cocktails, which cocktail is the most versatile? The most interchangeable? The roux from which countless cocktails can be made, all depending upon the whimsy of our moods?

Original bartender Lee Watson says that it is, hands down, the appropriately dubbed Last Word.

This four-ingredient, equal-parts, Prohibition-era cocktail concocted long ago at the Detroit Athletic Club lay dormant for some time, he says, before it was rediscovered and put back into the rotation by Seattle’s Murray Stenson, who tended bar for the Zig Zag Cafe during the vintage cocktail renaissance.

Comprised of gin, Green Chartreuse and Maraschino liqueurs and juice from freshly squeezed limes, all of which is shaken strained and served in a classic cocktail glass, the Last Word, he says is “a perfectly balanced cocktail.”

“But it’s also,” has adds, “a great template to play with to design other cocktails.” A good bartender, he says, can experiment using different gins, or swap them out entirely for something far different, like Aquavit or cachaça. Choosing different liqueurs, he says, will also vastly change the drink’s flavor profile, just as replacing the lime juice with the juice from an orange, a grapefruit or a lemon.

It’s a simple recipe, he says, and no matter how it’s spun, it will almost always retain the “the essence” of the Last Word.

Try one and see for yourself if we’re not on to something. Or choose your own adventure and ask your bartender to change it up some by offering a suggestion to see if you’re not, in fact, on to something.