Photo by Kathryn Parker
On paper, the Last Word is a train wreck: equal parts gin, Maraschino, Chartreuse, and lime juice. Yet somehow the sweet-and-sour Prohibition-era cocktail works. Little-known drinks—the ones worth ordering, anyway—are like that. Good bartenders know this, which is why cocktails with strange names that call for ingredients like sherry and Chartreuse are showing up on menus at of-the-moment bars around the country. You could buy a bottle of Bénédictine, or you could go to one of these spots and have an unsung drink done right. Rob Willey
The Last Word at Hotel Delmano
82 Berry Street, Brooklyn, New York, no phone
A cocktail credited to a forgotten twenties vaudeville performer, the Last Word seems like a long shot to make a comeback. But the spot-on rendition Jeff Hansen brought to this eight-month-old Williamsburg saloon will make you a believer.
The Jack Rose at Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-532-9100
This combination of applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine—an early-20th-century sour that had a cameo in The Sun Also Rises—can be so sweet it makes your teeth hurt. Jackson Cannon, the barman at this stylish brasserie, uses homemade grenadine so that doesn't happen.
The Old Pal at The Zig Zag Café
1501 Western Avenue, Seattle, 206-625-1146
Murray Stenson, head bartender at this bustling cocktail spot, resurrected the Last Word six years ago. He's since moved on to other artifacts, like a bourbon-based riff on a Negroni from the thirties: equal parts whiskey, Campari, and dry vermouth, served up with an orange twist.
The Vieux Carré at the Alembic
1725 Haight Street, San Francisco, 415-666-0822
An invention out of New Orleans during the Depression, the Vieux Carré is a mash-up of a manhattan and a Sazerac: rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, and two kinds of bitters. It was unpopular for about 70 years before Daniel Hyatt, the bar manager at this Haight-Ashbury gastropub, made it feel new again.