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Rene Hidalgo loves himself an equal-parts drink: "There's something kind of magical about it. It's like I don't have to do anything but pour equal parts of the same thing and the balance works out."
At Beloved in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Hidalgo makes a lovely tribute to The Last Word, a prohibition-era cocktail traditionally made with equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. "We wanted to do a little riff on a well-known, classic cocktail...We all have a pun problem here. So, the original is called The Last Word and this is a little hip-hop slang twist on that."
"The Last Word has a lot up front," says Hidalgo, who looks to Yellow Chartreuse to create something a little more restrained: "You get less of that big, minty herbaceousness right in your face, but it's still there." Hidalgo swaps out maraschino liqueur, and uses St. Germain elderflower liqueur instead. "We wanted to keep the complexity without having it be too aggressive...to work with flavors that people are accustomed to and just approach them in a cool way."
To dial back the sweetness, Hidalgo gives the royal four a "regal shake,"—throwing a grapefruit peel into the tin. "We wanted to dry the drink out without something more harsh like lemon." It's an effect that simple garnish can't achieve; "When you're shaking, the ice is pounding the peel, so instead of those oils from the skin layering on top it, it gets incorporated into the drink...the acid coats your tongue."
Hidalgo places a small Luxardo cherry in a chilled coupe glass, and pours, double straining to keep the peel bits out. It's a soft sweetness—herbal, floral and lightly citric. "You can have a sweet drink that's not cloying. It doesn't have to be high fructose corn syrup and that sticky stuff." That's my word.