Looking around at this Technicolor landscaped, money drenched enclave I now call home, it’s hard not to feel a little bit guilty about having left Detroit. The (now officially) bankrupt city whose waning regality served as my teenage playground, college campus, place of employ and, for many years; home.
Detroit – the spectacular widow of a fallen manufacturing dynasty – isn’t the post-apocalyptic wasteland that so many outsiders picture today. The government, systems and services may be in shambles but people still live there. A lot of them. People who work and make and think and plan for a prosperous future.
Detroit has always been bursting with creative energy and I consider myself a product of that- So, shouldn’t I be there, putting my passion and work hours in? Spending my money in local businesses? Volunteering at one or more of the countless non-profits trying to make a dent in the city’s struggles? Don’t I owe it at least that much? Am I a traitor for wanting my “better days” to come sooner than later and leaving just as things got really sticky?
I’ll keep grappling with that one for awhile and let you know if I come to any conclusions.
In the meantime, let’s talk draaaanks! It’s no surprise that the craft cocktail movement has made its way to Detroit because the people there specialize in making things well. Mixology fits snugly into those capable, creative hands. Boutique distilleries and cocktail bars – the first of which, I believe, is an awesome spot in Corktown called The Sugar House – are popping up around the city and surrounding suburbs. Detroiters are fully up on that next level drinking shit.
Actually, fine cocktails are part of the city’s history. One of the most delicious libations in the canon of American classic cocktails is a little green hued number called The Last Word - born right in the Motor City, at the Detroit Athletic Club in the early 1920′s. It’s one of the very few original cocktails to come out of the Prohibition Era that wasn’t well, totally gross, probably because Detroit was so close to the Canadian border and thus speakeasies had access to a greater variety of spirits to serve alongside that ubiquitous bathtub gin.
Fun Fact: My own Great Grandfather ran a speakeasy in Detroit during Prohibition. Slingin’ hooch is in my blood, yo!
The Last Word
- 3/4 fresh lime juice
- 3/4 Maraschino liqueur
- 3/4 Green Chartreuse
- 3/4 gin
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. No garnish necessary.
Feeling a little bit homesick recently, I picked up some Vernors ginger ale (another Michigan classic) to sip on and inspiration struck. Why not rework some old components to create something that’s new and fresh? I mean, isn’t that what’s happening in Detroit right now? And so, friends, here is my small and humble homage to the Motherland. I took The Last Word‘s tart, herbal components (best for after-dinner sipping, if you ask me), adjusted the proportions and added Vernors, resulting in an easy drinking, bubbly Summertime cooler. I give you:
Le Nouveau Mot (The New Word)
- 3/4 fresh lime juice
- 1/4 Maraschino liqueur
- 1/4 Green Chartreuse
- 1 1/2 gin
- Vernors ginger ale
Shake and strain into Collins glass, top with Vernor’s and crushed ice. Mint sprig garnish optional.