12 Variations Of The Last Word Cocktail You Have To Try

Go to the new cocktail bar that just popped up in your neighborhood, and you'll be met with a menu full of creative, unexpected drinks that you can't find anywhere else. These days, bartenders are going above and beyond to create inventive cocktails to complement the dishes coming out of the kitchen. But then, there are some cocktails that are indisputable classics, cocktails you can find anywhere that has a bartender who knows what they're doing. The Last Word is one of those cocktails. It was created around 1915, right before the start of Prohibition, by Frank Fogarty of the Detroit Athletic Club. Though it went out of style for decades, the Last Word is officially back and on cocktail menus across the country.

It's relatively simple (three-quarters of an ounce of green Chartreuse, gin, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur each), but that simplicity has inspired a long list of other cocktail recipes over the years, some of which are very similar to the original, and others of which essentially use the same format. We've dug up some of these iconic Last Word variations, so you can give them a try yourself. Order them the next time you find yourself at a bar, or take advantage of the fact that they're all easy to make by pulling out the cocktail shaker and trying these recipes at home.

Bad Word

If you're looking for a cocktail about as close to the Last Word as you can get without actually being the Last Word, you have to try the Bad Word. Like its parent cocktail, it calls for green Chartreuse, lime juice, and gin. Instead of using maraschino liqueur, though, this recipe calls for Gran Classico, a liqueur that has a bit more complexity and depth thanks to the inclusion of 25 herbs and roots in the finished product. This stuff has been around since the 1860s, so it's worth giving it a try if you want to expand your bar cart.

Anyone can give the Bad Word a try, but we think it's especially enjoyable for someone who already knows they love the Last Word but wants to try something just a bit different. Who knows? Maybe you'll try the Bad Word and decide it's your new go-to cocktail.

Dirty Word

Here's another cocktail you have to try if you're a fan of the Last Word. The Dirty Word, like the Bad Word, replaces only one of the ingredients in the recipe. Otherwise, everything else stays the same. In this case, you're going to swap that gin for some tequila. Since tequila is less of an obscure ingredient than the Gran Classico, this cocktail variation is easier to try on a whim. As long as you already have the ingredients on hand to make a Last Word and you have a well-stocked bar cart, you shouldn't have any problems throwing this version of the drink together.

Gin has a very specific flavor profile and is not to everyone's liking. If you're the type to avoid gin at all costs but want to try this classic cocktail, then the Dirty Word is the drink you've been waiting for. You don't have to dislike gin to enjoy this iteration of the classic, though — as long as you're a tequila lover, you'll likely be a fan of this drink.

Final Ward

With the Final Ward, we're getting further away from the original Last Word cocktail recipe, but we're still in the same arena. This one swaps out two ingredients in the original recipe ... kind of. You'll still have to keep that green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur at the ready, but instead of having fresh limes to squeeze, you'll want to grab some lemons from the grocery store instead. You may not think that lemons versus limes make a significant difference, but trust us — there's a noticeable difference in the final product.

The differences don't stop at the citrus, though. When you make a Final Ward, you don't need gin, and you definitely don't need any tequila. Instead, this recipe calls for straight rye whiskey. If you're not a fan of whiskey, we know how this sounds. But once you actually try this drink, you'll realize that all the flavors work together especially well (which is why we emphasize using lemon juice over lime juice). Although that rye whiskey adds heaviness and intensity to the flavor profile, the lemon juice keeps things nice and fresh.

Industry Sour

In the food and beverage industry, few bottles behind the bar are more beloved than an amaro, a spirit made with intense herbs and spices. Fernet is an especially popular amaro, and if you've ever had it before, you know that it's fair to say that it has an especially strong flavor, which some people describe as being similar to black licorice. It's quite bitter, so it's not for everyone, but bartenders have a reputation for loving the stuff.

If you're also a Fernet fan, then you have to try an Industry Sour. Like the original Last Word recipe, the recipe for an Industry Sour also calls for green Chartreuse and fresh lime juice, but you'll also want to add some Fernet to the mix. Simple syrup helps to balance out all of those strong flavors, but it doesn't mask the flavors of the competing liqueurs. But just a warning: The Industry Sour is not for the faint of heart and definitely not the first drink you'll want to order on your twenty-first birthday.

Naked and Famous

Mezcal lovers, you may have assumed that there wouldn't be a Last Word variation to meet your needs, but we're happy to report that you can get your mezcal fix with a twist on the classic cocktail. Keep in mind, though, that the Naked and Famous is a pronounced departure from the traditional Last Word, so if you're looking for something similar to that flavor profile, you're probably in the wrong place with this drink.

However, you're definitely in the right place if you enjoy the smokiness and vegetal qualities of mezcal, the bitterness of Aperol, and the acidity of fresh lime juice. Instead of green Chartreuse, this recipe calls for yellow Chartreuse, which is a plus because when it's combined with the Aperol, it turns the cocktail a lovely bright orange color. Not only is the finished product delicious, but it also looks fantastic when double-strained into a delicate coupe glass. This is one of our favorite drinks to enjoy on a warm summer night because it's light and refreshing without sacrificing the complexity you want from a good cocktail.

Oh, My Word!

You might have noticed from the cocktails that we've covered so far that Last Word cocktail variations generally include some kind of citrus juice, whether lemon or lime. But the Oh, My Word! is conspicuously citrus juice-free because it hails from New York's Amor y Amargo, which has an anti-citrus policy on its cocktail menu. If you're looking for something that's less bracing and more rich and intense, then this may be the Last Word variation for you.

So, no, you won't see any lime in the ingredients list for this cocktail, but you will see that same old green Chartreuse, gin, and maraschino liqueur. In place of the citrus, you'll add Amaro Montenegro. Yes, Montenegro, like Fernet, is an amaro, so you can expect that same bold, herbal flavor in a slightly different format. For those who love bitter, complex drinks and don't need a cocktail to taste super refreshing, the Oh, My Word! is undoubtedly an exciting cocktail to try.

Other Word

We've already talked about the Naked and Famous, the Last Word variation that capitalizes on the popularity of mezcal. Well, if you love mezcal but aren't interested in the Aperol, we've got something just for you: The Other Word. This riff calls for mezcal, of course, but also maraschino liqueur and lime juice. Instead of green Chartreuse, you'll use yellow Chartreuse. Sounds easy enough, right?

What sets the Other Word apart from many of the other variations on this list is the fact that it's not an equal-parts cocktail. Instead, you're going to have to pay slightly more attention to the measurements you're using. You'll use an ounce and a half of mezcal, three-quarters of an ounce of yellow Chartreuse, a quarter of an ounce of lime juice, a sixth an ounce of agave syrup, and a sixth of an ounce of maraschino liqueur. When it all comes together, the complex flavors of the mezcal are highlighted in such a beautiful way.

Paper Plane

Among the most famous of the Last Word variations is the Paper Plane, itself an iconic cocktail. Even though you may have seen it on plenty of menus, that doesn't mean it's been around forever. In fact, it was created as recently as 2008, when bartender Sam Ross, owner of New York City's Attaboy and Diamond Reef, decided to make his own spin on a classic. This one departs from a standard Last Word pretty dramatically, but it still achieves that beautiful balance that the Last Word is known for.

If you're going to try to make a Paper Plane at home, you'll need not lime but lemon juice for that citrusy touch of, of course, as well as bourbon and Aperol. Finally, finish it off with some Amaro Nonino Quintessentia (yes, the amaros are very popular in these drinks!). The bourbon shows this drink's signature bold flavor profile, but the other ingredients temper it. If you're just starting to drink bourbon and you're looking for a great starter cocktail, then the Paper Plane is definitely for you.

Penultimate Word

Calling all Aperol lovers! We have a Last Word variation just for you. It's called the Penultimate Word and cuts out the Chartreuse completely. Since many of the other cocktails on this list contain Chartreuse, this version of the drink is a great way to avoid it in favor of bitter orange Aperol. It joins forces with gin and Maraschino liqueur; lemon juice adds an acidic finish. We love the way all these flavors come together in such a refreshing way.

Just because you're making a relatively simple cocktail doesn't mean you have to avoid garnishing your drink. Some recipes for the Penultimate Word calls for a twist of orange peel. It's a delicious addition because the peel provides a lovely aromatic quality when you go in to take a sip, and it also adds an extra touch of bitterness that complements the Aperol.

Pete's Word

We love it when recipe variations keep things simple because they make trying something new easier. After all, if you're just replacing one component of a recipe, you don't have to buy a ton of other ingredients just to try something new. That's one of many reasons why we love the Pete's Word. This Last Word cocktail variation is about as simple as it gets. You're still going to need those three-quarter ounces each of Maraschino liqueur, green Chartreuse, and lime juice, but instead of using gin, you'll have to grab some Laphroaig Scotch Whisky.

This combination works especially well because of the peaty flavors of the scotch, which play well with the herbal notes of the liqueurs. It's great for those days when you're craving a Last Word but doesn't have any gin on hand or when you're just trying to get away from the gin completely. This drink has a touch more depth and complexity than many of its cousins, but it still packs that same refreshing punch.


Ever heard of genever before? If not, you're not alone. It's a distilled malt wine that can only be made in Belgium or Holland and is flavored with various herbs and spices, especially juniper. At one point, it was used as a medicinal remedy, but now, we just add it to cocktails like the Last Word variation of the Shaddock. In addition to the genever this recipe calls for, you'll also want to snag some St. Germain, an elderflower cordial. We love the floral quality this cordial provides, especially when complemented with flavors of Aperol and lemon juice. Use all of these ingredients in equal parts, and you'll be enjoying an unforgettable cocktail in a matter of minutes.

If you tend to like floral flavors, then you're almost definitely going to enjoy this drink. Those strong flavors are able to express themselves in the absence of any sweeteners, which makes this somewhat unusual drink one of our all-time favorites.

Ultima Palabra

"Ultima Palabra" is Spanish for "Last Word," so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this cocktail incorporates mezcal into the traditional cocktail recipe. In addition to that mezcal, bartenders with aspirations of making an Ultima Palabra will also need green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur. In addition to that fresh lime juice, you're going to add pineapple juice to the mix as well. This gives the drink a slightly sweeter, more tropical flavor you can never achieve with citrus alone. Even if you don't usually like pineapple juice, give it a try — you may be surprised at how far that subtle sweetness can go in a drink that's otherwise pretty bitter.

You may want to add some chilled water to the cocktail shaker as well, as it'll help cut those strong flavors and make them more approachable. Enjoy poolside for the best results (but you'll still enjoy it at a bar too).