Final Ward

January 28th, 2011  |  Published in fall, liqueur, recipes, rye, whisk(e)y  |  1 Comment

Those readers who have been following my Twitter feed over the past few months will be aware of a few things: one, that my tweets are baseline functional and not much else; two, that I am a compulsive recipe clipper and bookmarker—a fact which provided the impetus for—three, that I have spent these past months combing through years of saved recipes (over! two! thousand!) and separating the wheat from the chaff. It has been a Herculean effort, but it was also especially rewarding to finish.

I have never been much of a journal writer—probably a surprise coming from someone who has managed to keep a blog going for six years. While I love the purpose and clarity of writing one’s own memoirs, these days my daily routine lacks the sort of punch that makes a compelling diary. But like most teenagers, I was very good at keeping a journal during high school though I became too busy during college to bother; when I unearthed said teenage diary years later the contents were so humiliating I barely made it thorough half the book, and haven’t managed to keep a journal since. Though it saves me the humiliation of reliving my angsty, oh-so-tormented thoughts, it also means that I am denied the cathartic and cringe-inducing experience of reflecting upon my thoughts years in the future and taking stock of how much I, and my circumstances, have changed.

Not so with two thousand recipes or a blog. Though SLOSHED! does serve to chronicle some of my thoughts, most of what it has documented has been the slow, evolutionary shift of my (and Dan’s) tastes from the obscurely wretched to our current, (we like to think) vastly improved palates. It’s nice to be able to go back and laugh, catching our ill-informed mistakes, rolling our eyes at our cocktailian pretensions and reminiscing about the days when a we drank Mexican Flags and Purple Hooters. (Which, by the way, we made a batch of recently just for a laugh. All I can say is that it’s been a long time since a drink triggered my gag reflex, and I’ll be glad not to repeat the experience again. Shudder.)

I thought it might be fun to revisit some old drinks to start off a new year of posts and reflect on how things have changed—the friends we’ve made, the cocktails we’ve imbibed, the skills we’ve learned—during this endeavor. What better place to start than with a clever variation on the cocktail that rang in the last new year? This is a remix of the Last Word cocktail from Phil Ward, famed bartender of Death & Co. in New York. Aptly named the Final Ward, we were introduced to it at La Maison du Gumbo Pages by our dear friends Chuck and Wesly. They are two of the wonderful people we’ve met because of this site, and our lives are better and richer for knowing them—as yours will be, once you try this cocktail!

¾ oz rye whiskey
¾ oz green Chartreuse
¾ oz maraschino liqueur
¾ oz fresh lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake, strain and serve.

The original Last Word—made with gin and lime—is one of my favorite cocktails. It’s a delightful and unusual drink, and the Final Ward does not disappoint on that score either. Though I am usually put off by more than half an ounce of maraschino, the robust flavors of the rye and Chartreuse work beautifully with it, allowing the natural sweetness of the liqueur to shine. Rather than allowing the sometimes funky character of maraschino to overtake the cocktail, the whole drink has a pleasant fresh flavor that belies both its high alcohol content and the robust flavors of all the ingredients. It’s a wonderful take on a classic, and I highly recommend this for people who don’t like rye whiskey—it’s a great introductory rye cocktail.

[Ed. note: Keep your eyes on Serious Eats—my new column, Drink the Book, is starting soon!]

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  1. 1.26.11: Curse of Scotland « liquor is quicker says:

    January 29th, 2011at 10:53 am(#)

    [...] Drink-making often seem to move in waves (see, for example, my brief note on Borough-style cocktails), with cocktail taste-makers acting as one to riff off a classic recipe.  The latest basic form to be the focus of this kind of attention seems to be the Last Word, whose base recipe of two powerful liqueurs, one liquor, and one citrus has been showing up all over the place lately.  For examples, check out the disappointing Peralta and the yet-to-be-tried(-by-me) Pantorium and Last Ward. [...]

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