The Last Word is my go-to cocktail for celebrations large and small. It was what I drank the day I finished the final draft of my dissertation, and the day I defended my dissertation, and the day I graduated. My son was born exactly 1 year after that day, so The Last Word has also been a way to celebrate his milestones. A successful surgery. First steps. Finally going to sleep.
This week I've had my first batch of guest posts accepted for publication (more on this later in October!). My usual celebratory cocktail doesn't seem right for this occasion. I want to honor not my relief in finally accomplishing something, but my pride in starting something new. I don't need a Last Word. I need a First Word.
Bartenders everywhere are trying to capitalize on The Last Word's recent resurgence with their own First Words, with mixed success. Why you'd want to muddy Chartreuse with bourbon is beyond me. I wanted a First Word that honored its origins: 4 equal parts, with floral, herb, and citrus notes. But I also wanted it to feel less like a sweet reward and more more like a palate cleanser. I kept the gin (Nolet's) for an herby base, and the Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo) for floral sweetness. I wanted the drink to be a little bit bitter, to reflect all the mistakes that come with trying something new, so I replaced the Chartreuse with Aperol. I replaced lime juice with orange juice to give the drink both lower acidity and the color of sunrise.
Because the drink is made in equal parts, it's easy to make just one for a private celebration or a pitcher for those who want to celebrate with you.
The First Word Cocktail
1 oz gin
1 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 oz Aperol
1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain, serve.