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Thursday April 24, 2014
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My husband and I had enjoyed a drink or two with friends at the Last Word, but we'd never fully explored these two menus. In late summer, before the school crowds returned, we went in a few times to do just that. My husband's taste in cocktails tends to be fairly straightforward--martinis, scotch and water, the very occasional gin and tonic. Wanting to venture further afield, he asked bartender Giancarlo Aversa for a suggestion. After a bit of back and forth--nothing too sweet or fruity, no vodka--Aversa proposed the Hanky Panky. (Booze-addled youths, from this century and the last, have burdened many cocktails with silly names.) Not listed on the menu, but a favorite of Aversa's, the mix of gin, red vermouth, and Fernet Branca, an Italian digestive, was herbal, bitter, and spirited--a good introduction into mixology's complexities. Choosing a printed suggestion--Dr. Ordinaire--rewarded me with a gin, absinthe, and lime concoction that was lightly licorice-y, very citrusy, and quite refreshing. My second choice, the Pro Whale, was an inspired combination of aged, blended rum, falernum--a sweet almond and spice-scented syrup--and chocolate bitters, with a backdrop of orange zest and brandied cherries.


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