Dec. 21 Last Christmas
In 1915, the first Last Word cocktail was served. Shaken-up at the Detroit Athletic Club, by bartender Frank Fogarty, it was unlikely anyone had a clue how much staying power the drink would have, but here we are, over a hundred years later talking out that equal-parts beauty. Few cocktails have kept so much relevance, especially not ones which could hold their own today, against the creativity of the modern bartender's toolkit.
Hello again, my thirsty readers, and get those shakers out. Today we are mixing up one of my favorite Christmas libations. The Last Word is almost a holiday drink as it stands, but this certainly wouldn't be Shaker of Spirits, if I just shared a classic without a story. Let's go ahead and shakerize this classic with the addition of some extra holiday cheer.
If those Detroit patrons who first sipped their Last Word cocktails traveled sixty-nine years into the future, they might be greeted with the pop tones of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, the duo history would remember as Wham!. They released their 1984 album Music from the Edge of Heaven in December, containing the breakout hit "Last Christmas." It's one of those songs which just gets into your head and won't go away. I've been singing it every year since I can remember.
The song tells the story of a man who gave his heart to someone who didn't want him. It's been a year now, but he's willing to admit he'd fall for them all over again, even though he know it would be a bad idea. The older I get, this song makes more and more sense.
I'll bet most of us have some tale of heartbreak around the holidays. Love is a son of a bitch afterall. Maybe it's a family member you fell out of sorts with, and now you know you'd fall for their cruel ways again. Maybe, if you're like me, you've given your heart away too much, and the holidays are a painful reminder of how easily you put yourself out there. For those of us who are truly hopeless romantics, it doesn't change anything. We will fall again and again, hoping to give our hearts to someone special.
This year, to save me from tears, I'll just keep giving the gift of cocktails to all of you, my thirsty readers. I've changed up the old formula from 1915 to feel a bit more festive. No matter how full or empty your heart may be, this should bring you a bit more cheer than drunk-dialing a toxic ex.
.75oz London Dry Gin
.75oz Green Chartreuse
.75oz Creme de Menthe (I've had a lot of questions about which creme de menthe to use, and I've personally used Tempus Fugit for all of my recipes which call for it. It's hands down one of my favorites. The green stuff, though fun for color, usually doesn't compare.)
.75oz Lime Juice
2 drops Vanilla Extract
Torch one cinnamon stick and cover with coupe to smoke the glass.
Shake and strain into smoked glass.
Garnish with cinnamon stick.
*There's a good amount of liqueur vs base spirit in this one, so I'd suggest shaking a bit extra than you would normally.*
I know this year can feel a bit lonely. Everywhere we look, we're reminded how far away we are from a return to what we know as "normal." Just know you aren't alone, and I consider every one of you my friends. Even if we're stuck at home, let's all try and make this a Christmas to remember. Let's make this the Christmas we put all those ghosts away for good. I have a feeling, this year is going to be something special. Keep the hope alive my friends, and keep shaking.