A classic pre-Prohibition cocktail, the Last Word saw a dramatic decline in popularity post-World War II, but its ubiquity was restored in the early days of the craft cocktail revival. Seattle bartender Murray Stenson famously discovered the drink in Ted Saucier’s 1951 book, Bottoms Up, and it quickly became a hit at his bar Zig Zag Café.
Today, the Last Word is a drink with a strong fanbase—one of its appeals is its versatility, as bartenders substitute its primary spirit, gin, with other ingredients. A popular swap is mezcal, which works surprisingly well and offers a dramatically different flavor profile.
On paper, the Mezcal Last Word is an odd drink, mixing smoky and earthy mezcal, highly botanical Green Chartreuse, syrupy-sweet maraschino liqueur, and tart lime juice, all in equal parts. But when they come together, the balance and depth is remarkable.
You can riff even further on the classic by infusing mezcal with fresh pineapple, as New York City bar veteran Phil Ward does for his Trato Hecho cocktail. (Find an optional pineapple-infused mezcal recipe below.)
3/4 ounce mezcal
3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce lime juice
Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice.
Shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
How to Make Pineapple-Infused Mezcal
This recipe comes from New York City bartender Phil Ward, who makes a Last Word riff called the Trato Hecho with pineapple-infused mezcal. Infusing mezcal with fresh pineapple amplifies the brightness of the spirit and coaxes out the sweet-tart notes of the lime and maraschino liqueur. To make a Trato Hecho, simply use the pineapple-infused mezcal in place of regular mezcal in the Mezcal Last Word.
To make pineapple-infused mezcal: Peel, core, and chop a whole pineapple into 1-inch cubes. Add to a large jar or other sealable container, and add a 750-milliliter bottle of mezcal. Let stand for 5 days and strain out and discard solids before using.
What’s the Best Mezcal for a Last Word?
Most pros recommend mezcal espadín for mixing into cocktails due to its consistent flavor profile and affordability. Representing up to 90% of mezcals on the market, mezcal espadín is made with the agave angustifolia, which takes less time to cultivate than less common varieties. Del Maguey Vida is a bartender favorite for mixing.