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Last night I ordered a Last Word cocktail, which I've had a few times before. When it came, the waiter told me that the bartender had never made one before. It was red. It was very red. It was also quite strongly cherry flavored.

A Last Word is usually made with equal parts:

  • Green Chartreuse
  • Maraschino liqueur
  • Lime juice
  • Dry gin

What could've caused this drink to be so red? (I had to leave quickly or I would've pressed the bartender!) My only theory so far is that he used a cherry liqueur instead of maraschino.

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This is a little off-topic...but was it nice? –  Niall Aug 5 at 16:08
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It wasn't bad. It was too sweet. I'd try it again with the cherry cut by more than half. If it had been bad, I would've sent it back and asked what they did right there. :) –  rjbs Aug 5 at 16:13
    
I wonder if there's a recent "How to make a Last Word cocktail" question here, posted slightly before this one... :P –  metacubed Aug 6 at 4:00
    
If there is one, search for "last word cocktail" doesn't find it. –  rjbs Aug 7 at 11:21
    
Nah, that's easy enough to reference that it would likely have been closed or downvoted pretty quickly. If you can find it on the first page of Google results, it probably won't make a good question. Just a joke, I think :) –  logophobe Aug 7 at 19:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

More likely is that he used the syrup that maraschino "cherries" are stored in. It's sometimes used by those who don't know better in things like Shirley Temples. It is bright, bright red, very sweet, very strongly flavored of cherries (or more properly a sort of sickly, artificial interpretation of the flavor). I hope it's obvious that I'm not a fan of this stuff.

If this was his first time making the drink, it seems likely that he misinterpreted the term maraschino liqueur, which is altogether different. It's distilled from marasca cherries (which are actually quite sour and bitter, not sweet) and has a much more subtle, complex flavor.

Quite frankly, I'd consider this a pretty dumb error - it's like using orange juice instead of orange liqueur. If the bar doesn't carry maraschino liqueur, then they can't make a proper Last Word. Brands like Luxardo are pretty ubiquitous at good cocktail bars in the US these days, so there's not much excuse for lacking it.

My advice is either to buy this fellow a good craft cocktail book, or stick to ordering beer and wine from him from now on.

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That had occurred to me, but I put it out of my mind as a horrible blunder that nobody would make. But the more I think about it, the more I think you're right. 😢 –  rjbs Aug 5 at 15:29
    
@rjbs I wouldn't have thought it likely that anyone would make this mistake either, but nothing else explains the color you describe. If he's also never made a Last Word, chances are he hasn't spent much time behind the stick. Noobs, man. –  logophobe Aug 5 at 15:33
    
It was just a mix-up, go get your money back. –  GdD Aug 5 at 15:49
    
Might be its own question, but you can recommend a good craft cocktail book? –  Chuu Aug 5 at 17:08
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@Chuu: Since you asked so nicely, I finally got around to writing a post I've meant to for a while. Cheers: bunchofdrinks.blogspot.com/p/recommended-books.html –  logophobe Aug 8 at 3:31

Sounds like you're already satisfied with the answer, but I think it's odd that grenadine hasn't yet been mentioned! Did it have that characteristic saccharine-sweet pomegranate or blackcurrant taste? Seems far more likely as an ingredient than actual cherry juice/syrup.

Sorry if I missed a previous grenadine comment.

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It's been too long for me to say whether it could've possibly been grenadine, but the "liquor from cherry jar" explanation has the benefit of fitting with "bartender had no idea what ingredient «maraschino liqueur» was and guessed," where grenadine would've been a complete fabrication. –  rjbs Aug 10 at 0:51

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