The Last Word is a word game where words are formed somewhat like they are in Boggle, except that once a letter is used, it is removed from the board and cannot be used again the rest of the game, forming an obstacle players have to skip around for the rest of the game.

Each player has a token he moves around the board, moving one space orthogonally or diagonally each step, possibly wrapping around the edge of the board, and spelling a word with his steps each turn. There are a few wild squares which stay put and can be used for any letter, but don't score you anything. The other letters you collect as you use them and keep score with. You score one point for each (non-wild) letter you use, and as the letters on the board get sparse, you score 5 points for trapping an opponent such that he cannot make a move (also knocking him out of the game); it's also possible to make a word such that you knock yourself out of the game to deprive your opponents of these points. There's also a 5 point bonus for forming the last word.

The Last Word is also a cocktail. It's possibly my favorite cocktail, and when it's made properly, it's bitter, pungent, herby, slightly sweet and mysterious. Originally a prohibition-era cocktail, the Last Word was rescued from obscurity by Murray Stenson in Seattle, who found the recipe in an old bartending manual. The first time I ever had one was in The Varnish, a neo-speakeasy tucked away in the back of Cole's in Los Angeles, and it was nothing less than a revelation. Fortunately, I learned that the drink is surprisingly easy to make. Equal parts of four ingredients, shake over ice until very cold.

A couple of the ingredients may be something of an effort to obtain, (I've noticed it can be difficult to find maraschino liqueur) but it's definitely worth tracking them down.

1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (do NOT use concentrate, or worse that horrid sickly sweet Rose's crap. I will hunt you down)
1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur (I like Luxardo)

Shake with ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass.

A couple of notes, you'll want to use a robust gin, like a London dry. As nice as Plymouth can be, it won't stand up to the Chartreuse or maraschino, and it knocks the drink out of balance. Using key limes is preferable to Persian limes, if you absolutely must use Persian, you should adjust the recipe to 2/3 oz. lime juice instead of equal parts, you'll need a bit more sourness to cut the sweetness of the liqueurs. I never fail to feel contemplative and mysterious when drinking one of these; it's a sipping drink that calls for slow meditation on the range of flavors it presents.

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