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Timeless Classics Have Their Stay At The Last Word

We're in a world now where reinvention is the norm - the next big trendy thing is a few weeks away from being evolution of its predecessor. A carousel of "in-things", viral social media hits and shock value creations has perhaps maybe made its way into the cocktail scene too. Now, everything's a riff on a previous riff on a previous riff - is there still any room for the "classics" to say?

Source: @lastwordsg

We've had the opportunity to visit The Last Word earlier this week - for those who are well versed in their cocktails, they're quick to pick up that the bar is named after a cocktail - the Last Word.

 

Source: Liqour.com

The Last Word; a cocktail made with equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino cherry liqueur and lime juice, shaken; was said to have been invented in 1921 by the Detroit Athletic Club, right before the start of Prohibition. While falling to obscurity from the 1950s, it has seen a revival at the break of the 21st century.

 

Source: CNA Luxury

The Last Word bar is a project by Nutmeg & Clove, where it aims to "rekindle the romance of classic cocktails", served alongside Japanese bar bites. Conceptualised by Colin Chia, the co-founder of Nutmeg & Clove, the bar debuted early 2022 after six months of work.

 

The bar is somewhat hidden from plain view - along the narrow Purvis Street, the bar sits right above it's elder sibling.

To the left of Nutmeg & Clove's glass entrance is a small circular wooden sign that's easy to miss. Admittedly, I had to pace up and down the street a few times to spot it. Walking up the narrow stairs feels like heading towards a dead-end, but at the door to the left, reveals a dimly lit, minimalist, intimate bar.

 

We were ushered to our seats at the bar table, where the bartenders did not ask what was the tipple for the night or any preferences of flavour: just whether we wanted still or sparkling. Given the humid night, we opted for sparkling water, which was served to us topped with a slice of lime.

 

 

Our welcome package - a wet towel, sparkling water and a bowl of peanuts.

Giap, our host for the night, explained to us the menu of Last Word. The cocktail menu began with the flagship cocktail the Last Word, but each subsequent chapter of the menu had six cocktails from different time periods of cocktail history - starting from very genesis of the Golden Classics in the 1830s to the revival of the cocktail scene in the 2000s.

Prohibition - the second chapter right after the Golden Classics.

However, we opted for a different start to our cocktail journey. It so happened that The Last Word was participating in the Singapore Cocktail Takeover - where 30 bars feature two signature cocktails at the accessible price of $18++ alongside guest shifts and events, from 1st to 12th May. Me and my accompanying friend had the two featured cocktails: the Ume Daisy and the Coco-Tini, both made with Hendricks Gin as a base.

 

The SG Cocktail Takeover signatures: Ume Daisy and Coco-Tini.

The Coco-Tini was, as Giap explained, an spin on the classic martini that was made sweeter and more approachable. Made with Hendricks gin, Tio Pepe sherry, muscat vinegar and coconut, it was deliciously sweet. It reminded me of a coconut jelly dessert with a spritz of lime juice, where the dryness of the cocktail shows itself up towards the end.

Coco-Tini.

Next was the Ume Daisy, using again Hendricks gin, junmai daiginjo sake, plum, chamomile and garnished with a lemon twist. he chamomile aromas are really paired well with the plum - giving a sweet, deep yet floral flavour. The lemon spirtz breathed a life and much needed brightness - definitely a great way to start the night!

 

 

Ume Daisy.

We moved on to bites as well - on Giap's recommendation, we got the Smoked Duck. The smoked duck was served with a yuzu kosho - where the green, peppery spiciness draws out the smoky, almost tea-like aromas of the smoked duck. The slivers of meat were just tender enough while giving a satisfying chew - a great savoury compliment to our sweet cocktails so far.

 

If I had to make one complaint, that would be not having enough yuzu kosho.

We then moved on to the Last Word itself. Colin has revised the original recipe slightly, toning down the green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur to bring more crispness and grasiness to the cocktail - apart from these alterations, the cocktail is still very much like the original.

The cherry is made by soaking it in brandy and maraschino liqueur for weeks.

 

A word of caution I have those looking to try this cocktail - this cocktail has a fierce bite on the booze. The herbaceous depth of the chartreuse really shines here, with the wormwood, alpine herbs and spices taking centre stage. This cocktail swings between single expressions of its components to a roaring orchestra of flavour - but one thing stands through is by the time I hit the bottom of the glass, my cheeks were buzzing.

To end off the night, we had to try a cocktail from their limited menu: Summer 2024, themed around the seasons of the year. All of the cocktails feature the Macallan 12 Double Cask as the base spirit, and the Sunset Bliss caught our eye.

 

The Sunset Bliss was a mix of the aforementioned Macallan 12, sesame shochu, osmanthus and peach wine. The cocktail was elegantly floral on the nose and on the initial taste, with the osmanthus and peach; but as the cocktail sits on the palate, a green apple, malic flavour comes through. A flurry of earthiness and herbaciousness comes through, which feels foreign yet familiar at the same time. As the cocktail withdraws from your palate, I was left with the characteristic flavour of Nin Jiom Pei Pa Kao.

Final Thoughts

If Nutmeg & Clove is the preppy, high energy bar you have a couple of great cocktails with good company, to me, the Last Word is the intimate, cozy place you visit with a smaller crowd or close ones. There's a sense of coziness with the bar - you won't be snapping the most attention grabbing photos for your socials, but the minimalism of the bar leaves more breathing room to appreciate the ambience and craft.

 

On the cocktails, the flavours of the drinks here are elegantly crafted - those that definitely benefit from slow sipping. As a fan of the classics, I appreciate that the classics aren't reinvented or given a whole makeover - just an adjustment of flavours and modernisation that has moved with the times. I definitely recommend a visit to The Last Word, even more so if you're already a fan of Nutmeg & Clove.

The SG Cocktail Takeover cocktails will be available until the 12th of May, while the Summer 2024 cocktails will be available until end June.

 

As a wild side note, I'll like to shoutout the alligator green bar seats. They're in such a perfect shade of green that it might be my favourite piece of furniture in a bar ever. I'll make a trip earlier in the day next time so I can appreciate it in its full glory next time.

 

@vernoncelli