The Last Word

A Cocktail for a Countess

Cocktail hour. Some of us count down to it. Some of us reason that, “It’s always 4 o’clock somewhere.” Some of us let it slip by, unnoticed.

The same could be said for Downton Abbey. Finally, after many impatient glances at the clock (and a preposterous pre-show on the history of the house and its real-life inhabitants: “The house never flubs its lines”?!), the time was upon us. Finally, we foolish fans could re-unite with Lady Mary’s demands, Thomas’s machinations and the awkwardness of the Mr. Bates-Anna union.

A celebratory libation was in order to give the Season 3 premiere its due, so I enlisted my friend Joel, lover of the carefully-made cocktail, to come up with a suitable beverage. The Last Word, invented in 1921, couldn’t have been more appropriate to a new season of the Dowager Countess of Grantham’s characteristic one-liners:

Lady Grantham: [glancing at Robert, while flustered] Do you think I might have a drink?
Lady Grantham: [looking more closely at Robert] Oh, I’m so sorry. I thought you were a waiter.

Such is the exchange between Lady Grantham and her son when he arrives at dinner without his tails. (It is, after all, a new era.)

Invented at the Detroit Athletic Club in the early days of Prohibition, the recipe for The Last Word, could easily have been brought across the pond by Cora’s mother (played with aplomb by  Shirley MacLaine).

Here is the recipe for The Last Word:

one part gin
one part fresh lime juice
one part maraschino liqueur
one part Chartreuse

Chill the glasses with ice water. Add the ingredients together into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain through a cocktail sieve into a martini glass or coup. No garnish necessary, just an equal parts potent, sour, sweet, pungent potation.

We followed our cocktails with Eliza’s delicious Shepherd’s Pie (the “downstairs” portion of our evening, which Mrs. Pathmore couldn’t have made better), some Pinot Noir and a little peach champagne—and heckling the screen during the two-hour premiere, we were decidedly tight.

Note the impressive butler’s pantry at right —>
Thank you to Mike Dundas of Spencer Magazine for bringing this lovely libation to our attention.


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4 Responses to “The Last Word”

  1. Kragthorpe Overdrive says:

    Nice photography. I would hang out with you if you brought me to places like this where things like that were served to me. Frankly, what this site needs is more of a “how to” section in terms of “how to get hooked up with this stuff.” Otherwise you’re just lording it over me.

  2. Samg says:

    How cleverly you capture a bit of Downton Abbey which comtinues in Season 3 to so engage us. And not long ago as a guest at a dinner party celebrating an evening of Scots/Brits, I dined on Shepherd’s Pie, quite tasty indeed!

  3. Melissa Millay says:

    Yum! Sounds like The Last Word cocktail should become a regular Sunday night Downton Abbey tradition. I think I’ll have the inaugural cocktail this Sunday…

    As for the Shepherd’s Pie, I would love a really good recipe.

  4. sallytomatoes says:

    Ms. Lovage, this column is so delightful. Thank you for brightening my day. Mmmm … The Last Word followed by shepherd’s pie is something to look forward to. Wish I were a cook!

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