One of the many things I hate about New Year’s Eve is the way it’s the amateurs’ night out. It’s the non-partiers’ party; the non-drinker’s binge. Dr Johnson said that “Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme for merriment”, and NYE is a vast scheme for merriment. The ratio of expense to enjoyment is as low as at any time except perhaps Valentine’s. I suppose there’s the novelty of seeing affluent middle-aged professionals who do the school run in 4×4s being sick on the pavement outside upmarket bars at 7 pm because they don’t have any technique, but I don’t much enjoy it, and they just fill every bar, make places hard to get into and make everything more expensive.
General elections do much the same thing for politics, but for weeks at a time.
The Last Word is elegant, obliterating and well named. Drink it steadily through the night and your New Year will be found in a disused gravel quarry by an old man walking his dog; you don’t have to worry about it any more. Such have been the horrors of the opening exchanges of Britain’s general election that I’ve decided to start mixing it early. The feeling of shame and gloom I feel whenever I read about it or hear anyone involved speak dissipates; no more Mark Francois, Richard Burgon, John Nicolson or Layla Moran. The Last Word stills the clamour and helps to reconcile the melancholy drinker to whatever unwelcome result lies ahead.
The Last Word cocktail
- 1 part strong smooth dry gin (I’ve been using Fords Gin Officers’ Reserve; I don’t think this is the place for anything funky)
- 1 part green chartreuse
- 1 part maraschino liqueur (I use Luxardo)
- 1 part fresh lime
It’s usual to use 3/4 of an ounce per ingredient per cocktail. Shake with crushed ice and strain into a (preferably chilled) coupe. Serve with ennui and a quotation from Coriolanus:
What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
Fresh; a little sweet and sour; lots of botanicals, with quite a bit going on in a quiet way, and nicely balanced.
Paul Fishman (Kendal, December 2019)