Iconic City Cocktails: From A Fizz to The Last Word
Every major city has something of a cocktail scene these days, but have you ever wondered whether each has its own unique cocktail, either invented or popularized there? We have. We dove deep into our cocktail knowledge, asked the experts around town, and landed on some city-specific and very delicious cocktails.
Seattle – The Last Word
While it may not have begun in the Emerald City, The Last Word – a beautifully herbal and citrus concoction of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice – can be found on menus all around the city.
This aesthetically pleasing drink has roots in the Prohibition era and somehow drifted into obscurity until Zig Zag Cafe bartender Murray Stenson thankfully brought it back to life in the early 2000s here in Seattle.
Today, you can still enjoy The Last Word at Zig Zag Cafe near Pike Place Market, the classy Dead Line restaurant and bar on 1st Avenue, and Marble Room, tucked away in the back of Pioneer Square D&E. And for anyone wary of gin, this drink is bound to change your mind.
- 3/4 ounce gin
- 3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
- 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- Garnish: brandied cherry (optional but essential)
Denver – Colorado Bulldog
Craft cocktails in Denver!? Surely we mean craft beer? Denver’s recently seen a boom in cocktail culture, nowhere more so than in the Lower Downtown (“LoDo”) neighborhood. Places like Union Lodge No. 1 have brought back the fiery Blue Blazer with their own twist of apple jack and cinnamon. Others like Terminal Bar can whip up a very decent Last Word if you’re not heading to Seattle.
But does Denver have its own unique cocktail? That answer can be found in a blend of vodka, coffee liqueur, cream, and cola, otherwise known as the Colorado Bulldog. There doesn’t seem to be a solid origin story for the Bulldog, but it may have invented around the time other similar cocktails were becoming popular, including the Mind Eraser, and based on The Dude’s favorite daytime bevvy, the White Russian.
Recipe (The Spruce Eats)
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1 ounce coffee liqueur
- 1 ounce light cream or milk
- 1 to 2 ounces cola, to taste
New Orleans – Sazerac, Vieux Carre, Ramos Gin Fizz
Several famous drinks can trace their origins back to the Big Easy. Start with a Sazerac at The Sazerac Bar, which is a quintessential New Orleans cocktail, given it’s spiked with Peychaud’s bitters, invented by a Creole apothecary who immigrated to Louisiana in the late 18th century. It’s also unique for its two-glass preparation, with the drinking glass being rinsed with absinthe before pouring in the remaining ingredients.
Another bitters-heavy New Orleans classic, the Vieux Carre, is named for the famous French Quarter (for those who took Spanish in school, “vieux carré” translates to “old square” en français).
If you want to give yourself or your bartender some exercise, the Ramos Gin Fizz involves a bit more shaking than your standard cocktail and adds an intriguing texture with the addition of an egg white. And it could be worse: when it was invented in 1888 by Henry Charles Ramos at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, the instructions called for 12 to 15 minutes of shaking!
Sazerac Recipe (Liquor.com)
- 1 sugar cube
- 1/2 teaspoon cold water
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 1/4 ounces rye whiskey
- 1 1/4 ounces cognac
- Garnish: lemon peel
Vieux Carre Recipe (The Spruce Eats)
- 3/4 ounce rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce cognac
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 to 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- 1/2 ounce Bénédictine liqueur
- Cherry or lemon twist, garnish
Ramos Gin Fizz Recipe (Liquor.com)
- 2 ounces gin
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce heavy cream
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 3 dashes orange flower water
- 1 fresh egg white
- Club soda, chilled, to top
Have a cocktail in your destination that defines the city? We’d love to hear your favorites*!
*Honorable mention: Chicago’s notorious Malört (though not a cocktail but a liqueur), New York City’s Cosmo craze, and Miami’s refreshing Mojito.