Thursday, April 7, 2011
Cocktail Wednesdays: The Last Word
In the last week, a friend told us of a cocktail considered to be a local special, as it was born at the Detroit Athletic Club. Of course we had to try it.
(Once again, I forgot to get a photo before we began drinking. I hope you enjoy these "during" shots.)
The Last Word:
3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
Shake well over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.
The Chartreuse is an interesting thing, an herb infusion created by Carthusian monks of La Grande Chartreuse since 1605.
We also bought real maraschino liqueur, which we did not have before. I was under the impression that maraschino cherries were packed in maraschino liqueur, but later learned that since 1939, cherries packed in other things -- usually sugar and almond oil -- have no longer been required to be labeled "imitation" maraschinos, and that's pretty much what you find today. Once we learned this, we went to Merchant's and picked up a bottle of the real deal. Luxardo Maraschino is distilled from marasca sour cherries and aged in ash barrels. We'll have to revisit that Colony Cocktail now that we have the real stuff, not just cherry infused syrup.
Neither of us have tried the Chartreuse or the maraschino by itself yet, and I am pretty sure that none of our three guests had either. This does make it somewhat more difficult to pick out which notes came from which ingredient, but we all had a certain notion of what the general idea would be. Before tasting the drink, I was wondering why the Wikipedia article on The Last Word says that Chartreuse is the primary alcohol by volume when there are equal parts of each ingredient, but upon tasting, it became clear that the Chartreuse was in the driver's seat. Also, in retrospect, looking at the bottles while writing this post, I realize that the Chartreuse is 55% ABV, while the gin is 47% ABV, and the maraschino is 32% ABV. That Chartreuse is no pansy liqueur; it's full blown spirit! The primary alcohol by volume in this drink is the Chartreuse. It's 16 proof higher than the gin!
The verdict: I find that the primary flavor is herbal, with the lime taking the second place and giving it a citrus note as well. The citrus note wasn't really lime flavored, it was more blended with some of the other flavors, and added a tartness. I did not notice the cherry, though the maraschino may have contributed a layer of sweetness. While I am sure that the gin lent some of its flavor to the drink, it blended into the Chartreuse's alpine herbals, and I was unable to find where the gin started. I did not feel that the drink had the particular pine flavor that I associate with gin. An herbal drink may sound terrible, but I found this to be very pleasant. The flavor was delicate, and the tangy sweetness of the citrus enhanced the flavor. This drink was very different from all of the other drinks we have tried so far, and different from any of the old standbys that I have had as well. It is a very enjoyable drink to sip on, but deceptively strong, especially if you are expecting the Chartreuse and the maraschino to have lower alcohol contents.