The Prohibition may be nothing more than a dusky lesson in history for many, but for bartenders at The Mill House it’s the inspiration behind one of their most provocative pours.
And this ain’t no bathtub gin either, crusader: La Próxima Palabra takes the down-and-dirty Detroit classic and gives it a modern Maui spin.
Ingredient #1: Pineapple
Who needs two tickets to paradise when you’ve got two slices of pineapple while you’re already here? La Próxima Palabra gets an island twist with organic, plantation-fresh pineapple that’s harvested just beyond The Mill House’s doors. Muddled with ice, this tropical fruit gives the spirit a sweet, juicy boost.
La Próxima Palabra has its rebellious roots in the 1920s, when bootleggers at the Detroit Athletic Club took bathtub gin, tossed it with maraschino liqueur and green chartreuse, and served it straight up to thirsty Midwestern boys in the middle of deals and professional athletes looking for some not-so-legal liquid leisure. Some sources report that the heady libation, known as The Last Word, was originally invented by Frank Fogarty—a vaudevillian monologist christened "The Dublin Minstrel” who was famous for concluding performances with a poignant final utterance called a “heart-throb recitation.” Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Café revived interest in this formerly fashionable concoction when he stumbled upon the recipe in BottomsUp, Tom Saucier’s seminal collection. An oldie but goodie? Hardly, Woodrow Wilson: The Mill House’s version is contemporary at its best, swapping washer-room whiskey for top-shelf mixers. Which brings us to…
Ingredient #2: Gran Centenario Plata Tequila
Gran Centenario Plata Tequila gets a major say in this daring and decadent drink. Aged for twenty-eight days in barrels known as French Limousins, this hand-crafted tequila comes out silver and goes down like gold—making it no wonder that it’s received dozens of awards. Subtle and smooth with hints of cocoa and oak, consider this the Cuervo for the cultivated set—and the perfect addition to The Mill House’s rabble-rousing swill.
Dazzle Your Date
Jose Cuervo—the company that owns Gran Centenario—is synonymous with the unofficial symbol of Spring Break for a reason: Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo began cultivating the blue agave booze over two hundred years ago when Spain’s King Ferdinand VI issued him a land grant in the Jalisco town of Tequila. The first commercial distiller of tequila began to make an impact on its Northern counterparts’ palates during prohibition, when bottles were smuggled across the Mexican border into the US’s southwestern states. Crafted at the oldest active distillery in all of Latin America, Cuervo now peddles 3.5 million cases of pulque to the United States per year and goes down in the books as the #1best-selling tequila in the world.
Ingredient #3: Luxardo
Most of us associate maraschino cherries with Shirley Temples and ice cream sundaes, but fused with liqueur and you’ve got yourself some seriously sophisticated flavor. Here, Luxardo underscores La Próxima Palabra’s pineapple and lime while giving the bold drink a tart brandy taste.
Score Some Pub Points
Luxardo isn’t just a cult favorite among suave connoisseurs: This Croatian liqueur has a history that harkens back to the Game of Thrones days, when it was made from maraschino cherries in medieval convents. In the early 1800s, Girolamo Luxardo—a Genovese businessman—and his wife, Maria Canevari, began honing the ancient rosolio maraschino recipe before bottling it commercially and distributing it from their eponymous distillery in Zara. Royalty took note: The Emperor of Austria conferred the Luxardo clan with the ultimate honor by naming their liqueur "Privilegiata Fabbrica Maraschino Excelsior.” A century later, America’s King of Literature fell under Luxardo’s spell; today, the cherry concoction is used in the grapefruit-laced Hemingway Daiquiri otherwise known as “Papa Dobles” in a nod to the number of drinks Ernest notoriously slurped down.
Ingredient #4: Limes
What’s a tequila cocktail without a squeeze of lime? Bartenders at Maui’s lushest bistro know to put their plantation-grown citrus to excellent use. La Próxima Palabra gets a healthy dose of jarabe with this fresh-pressed juice, which adds a touch of tartness to the sweet and spicy mix.
Who Woulda Thought
A hybrid citrus rich in Vitamin C, limes were once considered a closely-shielded military secret for the defense it provided sailors against scurvy—a disease that killed more British seamen than enemy action in the 18th century. The Persian fruit counts longevity as one of its many assets, with trees lasting up to a solid ten years. As ubiquitous in bars as lemons and ice, limes are often used to cut the fiery aftertaste generated by hard liquor while adding a welcome dash of depth and complexity. And pucker up, buttercup (in more ways than one): Limes have been shown to increase collagen.
Ingredient #5: Yellow Chartreuse
The French aren’t just famous for their brilliant bubbly: Yellow Chartreuse is a fine liqueur that was originally made in the French Alps, where Carthusian monks began distilling the spirit in 1737. Pungent and distinct, it appears in La Próxima Palabra as a subtle rinse—letting the other flavors shine while still asserting its inimitable, floral flavor.
Steal the Spotlight
The Chartreuse Mountains that give this liqueur its fancy-pants name is home to Saint Bruno’s first hermitage. Monks at the monastery made their foray into the practice of distillation when the rumored lover of Henry IV of France, François-Annibal d'Estrées, included a set of instructions for the spirit in a manuscript that dates back to 1605. Aged in oak barrels, Yellow Chartreuse gets its straw color from the inclusion of saffron. And this is no simple syrup: Chartreuse is comprised of over 130 herbs, spices, and flavors and is one of few alcohols that, like wine, ages better in the bottle. As to what those 130 ingredients might be? The mastermind monks behind it are living up to the platitude and staying silent. Way over here at The Mill House, we top off our La Próxima Palabra with a leaf of sage—guaranteeing that your last word will be nothing short of wise.
All photography was taken by Natalie Brown Photography. We have all the rights necessary to use these images on our website.