Shift Drink Saturday: La Ultima Palabra

Shift Drink Saturday: La Ultima Palabra

May 16, 2020

I met Sam Gemus, the creator of @myshiftdrink, in Aspen recently after we connected over Instagram. I love the content he is creating and since I gave up alcohol a few years ago I feel far from qualified to share a cocktail recipe of the week with you. This weekly blog will keep you stocked with recipes of cocktails for all occasions and tastes. Sam is a wealth of knowledge, with years of experience in upscale dining and cocktail bars throughout Aspen. This is one of many projects we have started working on, and I hope it keeps your thirst quenched. 

La Ultima Palabra

Most cocktail enthusiasts are familiar with 'The Last Word' (Gin, Luxardo, Green Chartreuse and lime juice) and its unique flavor profile. Replace the gin for mezcal to give the cocktail its Mexican flare. The original recipe is known for being a sour, herbal, sweet concoction. La Ultima Palabra brings mezcal into the mix which makes for an incredible combination. Some would think the mezcal would bring too much presence to an already strong flavored cocktail, but it blends perfectly with the other ingredients and the smoke is but a trailing flavor at the end of the palate after every sip.

The original Last Word recipe was born around 1916 at the Detroit Athletic Club (hometown shout-out!) and cost 35 cents ($8.22 in 2020) making it the club's most expensive cocktail at the time. A famous vaudevillian monologists (stand-up comedian) Fank Fogarty made his way through Detroit around that time performing at the Temple theater. It's believed he brought the drink back to New York where it became quite famous. Prohibition struck years later and the cocktail was lost for awhile just like most of America's booze during that era. The first publication was found in Ted Saucier's 1951 cocktail book 'Bottoms Up' but did not find much steam until 2004. Murray Stenson and the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle were the grounds for the resurgence of this historic cocktail where it became a cult hit in the area. Fast forward to the present and every educated bartender should know how to make it and all its variations.

When I first learned about this recipe I was excited that the portions were easy to remember. Most cocktails now are so intricate and very precise with the portions, La Ultima Palabra is a reminder that sometimes the simplest formula can taste the best. As much as I love creating fun new flavors and recipes I adore the lessons that we can learn from history. La Ultima Palabra has stood the test of time and will continue to satisfy whomever orders and imbibes it.  

Pairing this cocktail with a meal can be quite tricky. The proper time to enjoy this cocktail would be right after your meal, a liquid dessert of sorts. The name of the cocktail gives a hint as to when to enjoy, which is Last! If you find yourself with the drink in your hand all evening then I suggest pairing with foods that are also strong in flavor, think ramen or pizza or a meat and cheese platter. Sip and enjoy, careful though because it packs a punch.


Sam the Juice Man

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