When it comes to imbibing, there are certain events best celebrated in a specific place: Kentucky Derby in Louisville; the annual November release of Beaujolais Nouveau in France; Oktoberfest in Munich, etc. And, as I learned a few weeks ago, May 16 in Detroit. May 16, you see, is Chartreuse Day, designated so because in 1605, the Carthusian monks, who exist in silence in a monastery in southeastern France’s dazzling mountainous landscape, were first given the manuscript containing the still-top-secret recipe for green Chartreuse, the intensely herbaceous emerald liqueur made with 130 herbs and flowers. French monks? Kryptonite-colored hooch? Motor City? Rest assured, the dots do connect. It’s simple. Sort of. Chartreuse is a formidable drink that’s shrouded in mystery. And its dense thicket of herbal flavors lends itself to contemplation and analysis — if not befuddlement. It’s little wonder that its fans delight in a puzzle. As such, consider that when written in European style, May 16th is 16/05. (Wink, wink.) Simple enough. As for the Detroit connection, I had been visiting that very week and, in my bar-hopping, learned that the Last Word, a gin cocktail built with Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice, was created during Prohibition at the Detroit Athletic Club, a fancy private club. The city’s bartenders still take pride in the local-recipe-turned-enduring-classic, ensuring that the drink is easy to find around the city — on Chartreuse Day and all the other days. Liza Weisstuch
THE LAST WORD
Makes 1 drink
¾ ounce gin
¾ ounce green Chartreuse
¾ ounce maraschino liqueur, like Luxardo
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker over ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
2. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lime twist.