I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. When the weather gets cold, I turn my Kitchen Aid mixer on high. Cold weather is also a good time to curl up at home and pour yourself a big old drink. For my first installment of Ciao Vella’s “Boozy Baking” series I have had this idea in my head for a while of making a bundt cake based on one of my favorite classic cocktails: The Last Word. The Last Word is a old-fashioned cocktail that packs a big punch.
While I have been known to make a pretty mean cocktail in my day, nobody makes a better drink than my good friend Evan Danielson, who owns Dayton Cocktail Company. Dayton Cocktail Company provides craft cocktail catering for special events, large or small. He is awesome, talented, and hilarious – so it was a no brainer to invite him over to help me conceptualize my boozy baked rendition, and to throw back a drink in the process.
The last word consists of equal parts gin, lime juice, Green Chartreuse, and Luxardo. You probably know what the first two ingredients are, the next two are a little less clear. Green Chartreuse is a French liqueur made from distilled alcohol and over 100 herbs, botanicals, and flowers. It’s 110 proof, which means it will knock your socks off – and makes for one incredibly boozy drink. The flavor is complex: herbaceous, vegetal, slightly sweet, and definitely medicinal. It’s not a flavor for everyone, but I happen to love it. It’s a bright green color, obviously, given the name. If you venture into your standard hipster bar, you may stumble upon a dude discussing pointillism and sipping a chartreuse on the rocks. That’s fine for some…but I think it makes a much better component in a cocktail than just straight.
Now onto Luxardo. Luxardo is a maraschino liqueur that hails from Italy. It’s made from Marsca cherries which taste tart and slightly bitter. This tends to offset the sweetness in many drinks, adding a unique aroma and depth of flavor.
If you put all of those flavors together, you get a strong drink with complex flavors of sour cherries, herbs, and sweet lime. It’s a drink to sip and savor, not something to pound like a shot of jager (gross).
I love to make bundt cakes. First of all, bundt is fun to say (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding). But mostly I just really love cake. What’s that expression: a party without cake is just a sad meeting? It’s true, cake makes everything better. But you can imagine my trepidation when I attempted take something so pure and wonderful and infuse it with boozy flavors. Would it translate? Would it taste terrible? Would I ruin the integrity and the good name of cake? These are life’s big questions! The good news is everything turned out pretty well, but not perfect. Tim said, with a mouth full of cake, that it was delicious and I’m overly critical of myself (duh, what else is new…) but I’ll let you guys test it out for yourself, if you are so inclined.
So here’s what I did. I made a “gin bundt” with lime and juniper to give you that refreshing, and herbaceous gin and tonic taste. Then I made a green chartreuse and lime glaze to bring some sweetness and some tart flavors to the mix. The cake could definitely use a tweak or two, but ultimately it hits all the notes of The Last Word, and you can safely drive after consumption!
Recipes for both are below! Next month we are going to experiment with breakfast scones and a whiskey drink that you should most definitely not drink at breakfast! Cheers and Ciao!
The Last Word Cocktail:
- ¾ oz Gin (Bombay Sapphire is my recommendation)
- ¾ oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- ¾ oz Green Chartreuse
- ¾ oz Lime Juice (fresh squeezed, none of the Roses crap, people!)
- Lime wedge or twist for garnish
Combine all ingredients in cocktail tin, add ice, shake it, strain into coupe or martini glass. Enjoy!
The Last Word Bundt Cake:
For the cake:
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest and juice from 1 lime
- 1 Tbsp. Juniper berries (you’ll have a better chance of finding dried berries than fresh)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup tonic water (I know, I thought it was weird too…)
- 2 tsp. Baking powder
- 2 ½ cups flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease bundt pan
- Grate and juice lime, combine with juniper berries in mortar and pestle
- In mixer, cream sugar and butter
- Add vanilla, eggs, and juniper lime mixture.
- Fold in tonic water
- In medium bowl combine flour and baking powder, add to mixer.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until knife comes out cleanly.
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup Green Chartreuse
- Grated zest of lime (½ for glaze, ½ for garnish)
- Juice of 1 lime
- Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt completely
- Add in sugar, liqueur, lime zest and juice
- Stir together until glazey consistency is reached, remove from heat and let cool to thicken
- Pour glaze over cake, let glaze harden on cake before adding lime zest as garnish