Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The last word

There was an early stage in my cocktail/aperitif fascination where I thought I wanted a broad knowledge. I thought maybe I wanted to devote my life to the study of mixed drinks. But I soon found that, given a book of recipes of a hundred mixed drinks, less than ten will even be interesting to me, and of those only two or three will be worth the trouble of mixing up. This gave me a new sense that I was barely interested in cocktails at all and certainly not about to become a master of them.

That was okay.

But to my surprise, slowly, through what seemed to be a strong but slender interest, I have incrementally begun to acquire a tiny drinks vocabulary.

These, so far, are the drinks I love:

Kir Royale





The Last Word

Of all of these I think my favorite has become The Last Word. This is because The Last Word, above anything I have drunk, speaks most clearly to the two things I find so fascinating and appealing about cocktails: Strange tastes and alchemy.

Not counting ice, The Last Word is made of four ingredients: Lime, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and Gin. Each of these has its own strange, distinct, sometimes unsavory flavor, and none of them would I enjoy drinking on its own. Gin with its pure alcohol braced by an array of strange herbs. Lime juice with its tropical and intense sourness. Maraschino with its strange cherry and slightly wrong seeming crushed pits flavor. And best of all the Green Chartreuse, strange, sweet, overwhelmingly strong, with the flavor of dry shrubs from a distant, wild country. Permeating.

I have sipped each of these and recoiled a little at each, but pour equal parts of them over ice, shake in a cocktail shaker, strain, and they all come into an astonishing harmony. It is a drink with a single and utterly unique flavor, not sweet or sour or bitter, holding a thousand flavors within itself. I make myself one cold cocktail of it. I sip it with my wife and the flavor of it lingers, happily, for a day.

And then I would need one again, to remember.

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