Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Variations – Last Word

Last Word

The Last Word is one of my favorite classic cocktails. What makes it even better is the ease in which you can vary it up by substituting ingredients. This article highlights a few of my favorites.

Last Word is a prefect cocktail to experiment with substitutions. While there are endless options, this article focuses on a few of my favorites and touches on a some other substitutions you can try to further change the flavor of this style of cocktail. Overall, I like don’t like to mess with the ratios, as the balance between the ingredients is perfect in almost all cases using equal parts. Before we jump into a few variations, lets review the original Last Word:

Last Word 2Last Word:

.75oz Gin
.75oz Green Chartreuse
.75oz Maraschino
.75oz Lime Juice

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, lets get into a few variations.


Final Ward:

Probably the most famous variation of Last Word is from Phil Ward at the Pegu Club in NYC. His version, Final Ward, swaps out the Gin for Rye and the lime for lemon juice:

Final Ward 2

Final Ward:

  • .75oz Rye
  • .75oz Green Chartreuse
  • .75oz Maraschino
  • .75oz Lemon Juice


Citrus and anise with a hints of cherry on the nose. Another perfectly balanced yet unlikely combination of Rye spice, herbal chartreuse, sweet maraschino and sour lemon juice. The finish is souresque with a little anise to remind you that you are drinking something much more exciting.

Mezcal Last Word:

Another popular variation has been called a few names depending on the bar. This version swaps out the Gin for Mezcal, either using lime or lemon juice. The smokey flavor of Mezcal makes a great addition to the other flavors in the Last Word, without becoming too heavy. I will just refer to it as a Mezcal Last Word:

Mezcal Last Word

Mezcal Last Word:

  • 75oz Mezcal (I like Del Maguey Vida)
  • .75oz Green Chartreuse
  • .75oz Maraschino
  • .75oz Lime (or Lemon) Juice
Smoke and citrus nose. The lemon juice lightens the flavor and makes for a smoother taste than lime juice. The mescal adds smoke but otherwise fades into the background, letting the chartreuse and lemon shine, with hints of cherry. Overall a little drier.


As a lover of Fernet, this twist on a Last Word is right up my alley. Coming form the folks at 15 Romolo, Fernetaboutit substitutes Fernet for Gin and makes for a delicious, yet oddly colored version.



  • .75oz Fernet-Branca
  • .75oz Green Chartreuse
  • .75oz Maraschino
  • .75oz Lime Juice


Mint and anise dominate the nose with just a hint of citrus pulling through. Surprisingly well balance. The Fernet comes through up front, then in come herbal, citrus and anise accents. Fernet oscillates through at the finish, at times tasting perfectly balanced, then fernet heavy, then back to balance. Really interesting taste.

More Substitutions:

  • Spirit: There are so many other “base” spirits you could use as the base, Tequila, Peated Scotch, Genever, etc.
  • Citrus: One easy way to switch things up is to swap out one citrus for another. Try a Last Word with lemon juice, a Final Ward with orange juice, etc.
  • Sweet: Swap out Maraschino for St. Germain to through a little elderflower flavor into the drink. Domaine de Canton will add a spicy ginger kick.
  • Herbal: Some folks like Yellow Chartreuse in place of green, making for a slightly sweeter honey flavor with less anise. Try Strega, an Italian herbal liqueur that tastes somewhere in betweeen green and yellow Chartreuse.

By varying any or all these parameters, you can create a seemingly endless number of twists on this great classic cocktail.

15 Responses to “Variations – Last Word”

  1. Last Word | The Straight Up

    […] A lot of great variations of the Last Word exist. Additionally, the cocktail lends itself well to substitutions. Check out Final Ward and Fernetaboutit, or read about both as well as some other ideas in Variations – Last Word. […]

  2. andyseher

    Very cool. The Last Word is a wonderful cocktail, but I’ve never even thought about variations. I’m super intrigued by the one with Fernet. Thanks for the post.

    • The Straight Up

      Thanks. It really is a great cocktail in it’s own right, but variations with the Last Word are really easy. I really love it with Mezcal. Curious to see what you think of Fernetaboutit.

  3. Jeff Cleveland

    I tried the Fernetaboutit a couple weeks ago and while I enjoyed it, I thought it was a completely different cocktail than the Last Word. But tonight I made the Mezcal Last Word with La Puritita Verda Mezcal and I loved it. This seemed like a Last Word but the Mezcal made it so interesting. I’ll definitely have this again. One of my favorite drinks and I loved your variation.

    • The Straight Up

      Thanks for checking them out. The Mezcal Last Word is definitely one of my favorites. The added smoke flavor really jives well in this one. I also like to add some Bittermens Habanero Shrub or The Bitter End Thai Bitters to give it some spice as well. I agree about the Fernetaboutit. The strong flavor of Fernet really changes this one. Good but as you said quite different.

  4. Strega | The Straight Up

    […] also makes a great substation for other herbal liqueurs, such as Chartreuse or Benedictine. Try a Last Word Variation with Strega or sub it in for Benedictine in a Vieux Carre. You get the […]


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