New York City, 1880s

They say this drink is named for three beautiful jewels (“bijous” in French): diamond (gin), ruby (vermouth), and emerald (Chartreuse). Of course, “Bijou” was also a popular name for Broadway theatres, and this makes more sense to me: if The Last Word is the refined-but-eccentric type who comes in late for the show wearing tennis whites, the Bijou is his weird cousin who lives in the weed-choked field behind the theatre. Many contemporary versions of this recipe tame down the vermouth and Chartreuse, but the first-documented instance (in Harry Johnson’s 1882 “Bartender’s Manual”) specified equal parts, like a proto-Negroni. Yes, a whole ounce of 110-proof, ass-kicking green Charteuse: the intensely herbal liqueur made by French Carthusian monks since the mid-18th century. Legend says it contains 130 different botanicals and each half of the secret recipe is known by only two monks at a time, who’ve taken a vow of silence. And not just about the liqueur. So goes the legend, anyway. A great drink is made even better by a great story – and drinks tend to lead to stories, you know.

Odds are, because of the date, this would’ve originally been made with Old Tom gin. But if you don’t mind an extra herbal kick, try it with a London Dry gin. Either style works great here.

THE KIT

Hardware: Mixing glass, Jigger, Barspoon
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Old Tom gin (recommended: Hayman’s) or London Dry gin (recommended: Beefeater, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Italian vermouth (recommended: Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat), green Chartreuse
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Orange bitters (recommended: Regan’s Orange Bitters #6)

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a mixing glass about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 oz Old Tom gin or London Dry gin
1 oz Italian vermouth
1 oz green Chartreuse
1 
dash orange bitters 

Stir well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. No garnish.

Detroit Athletic Club, 1920s

The drink that launched a thousand knockoffs: The Last Word. Four equal parts heavy-hitters, no garnish. Written up by Ted Saucier in “Bottoms Up.” Revived by Murray Stenson in Seattle a few years ago. And now, endlessly pillaged as a source of inspiration by bartenders around the country. Try your hand at a spin sometime: Chartreuse, maraschino, and citrus seem to be the only constants (Chartreuse is one of the priciest liqueurs out there – look for smaller, 375 mL bottles). Three variations listed below.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Gin (recommended: Beefeater, Plymouth, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
3/4 oz London Dry gin
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 
oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz lime juice 

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass.

LA OTRA PALABRA

otherwordThe Varnish, Los Angeles, 2010

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Barspoon
Ice: Ice cubes, Ice chunk
Glassware:
 Double Old Fashioned glass
Spirits: Mezcal (recommended: Del Maguey Vida)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Yellow Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo), Agave nectar
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice

HOW TO

Chill a double Old Fashioned in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
2 oz mezcal
1 
oz lime juice
1/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
1/4 
oz agave nectar
1 barspoon maraschino liqueur

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass over a large ice chunk or two to three ice cubes.

WORDSMITH

Chuck Taggart, Los Angeles, 2009

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Smith & Cross pot-still rum
Mixers & Liqueurs: Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
3/4 oz Smith & Cross pot-still rum
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 
oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz lime juice 

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass.

THE FINAL WARD

Death & Co., New York, 2007

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Rye whiskey (recommended: Rittenhouse)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon juice

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
3/4 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 
oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz lemon juice 

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass.