by Ashley Fagan
Ann Arbor is no stranger to the movement for better cocktails. Recent establishments have kicked their bar offerings up quite a bit, as the high-toned concoctions at Mani Osteria or Lena prove. But one place that is putting pre-Prohibition style and authentic ingredients front and center is an Ann Arbor bar called “The Last Word.”
The Last Word is actually the name of a drink first served in Detroit during Prohibition, made with gin, lime juice, green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur. It’s no coincidence that the joint, with its emphasis on history and classic recipes, named itself after an obscure local drink. The bar’s walls are filled with picture frames, tea lights on each table and low lighting overhead. It’s stylish and a little old-fashioned.
But that doesn’t mean the folks at the Last Word are fusty or stand on ceremony. People may need a gentle introduction to pre-Prohibition-style cocktails. To aid in this, The Last Word offers “contemporary takes on classic styles,” often incorporating new ideas into classic drinks. They’ve seen even veteran craft cocktail drinkers be overwhelmed at the variety available. Education for both guests and staff is ongoing, daily, and sharing is encouraged. Feeling welcomed encourages guests to “trust their bartender, try new things, and experiment.”
And that’s part of the process. The staff at the Last Word says they enjoy “learning and gaining experience through experimentation” — that this gives them the ability to feature new flavors for their guests. Their drive is not fueled by whether a drink fails or succeeds but rather the process of creating something new being fun.
The Last Word rewards guests who are actively a part of the creative process. They can customize depending on flavor profile or individual palate. Combining the staff’s knowledge with the guest’s input can go all sorts of interesting places. What’s more, the “enjoyment of their guests fuels their passion.” Happy faces are the gold star of recognition for a job done right. So let the staff at the Last Word serve you up a craft cocktail with a smile, on both your faces.