There is nothing quite so satisfying as getting the last word – the same could be said of paying a visit to The Last Word. Confused? This may be because you are one of the unlucky few yet to hear about the most sensational new bar in Ann Arbor. The Last Word takes its name from a cocktail that was popular in the 1920s at the Detroit Yacht Club, and takes its location from Goodnight Gracie’s, which struggled to turn a profit for years before being bought up.
The atmosphere that The Last Word cultivates is reminiscent of a time of speakeasies and flappers. The small space seems like a secret haunt as you wend and weave your way underneath LIVE at 102 S. First in Ann Arbor. A pleasing fusion of old and new, The Last Word is quiet and dim – instead of windows, bare light bulbs that look as if they are half a century old are suspended sparely over the space, and small candles flicker at each table. Subtle music plays in the background, just loud enough that you can discern the strains of a favorite song, but never disruptive. Sketches and paintings crowd the walls and bookshelves lurk in the corners. With old book covers clothing the avant garde drink menu, the setting seems vaguely academic and is not out of keeping in a place like Ann Arbor. A piano stands in the far corner, a hint of the live music featured every Thursday night.
The setting is indeed part of the pleasure of this newly opened haunt, but the cocktails are what will make The Last Word the final word in potent potables. The waitstaff are exceedingly knowledgeable and willing to offer suggestions to assist with the overwhelming drink menu. Their assistance is most welcome when faced with drinks that contain half a dozen ingredients apiece. Mixers are made in-house from jars of fresh herbs behind the bar, which nestle next to a phalanx of seldom seen bottles of curious liqueurs.
Each drink is a work of art, often blending herbs, fruits, flowers and spices and even more surprising ingredients. Drinks made with egg white, blueberry, rosemary, violet liquor, cucumber and jalapeño live happily together on the multi chapter menu at The Last Word.
The bar feels distinctly open and inviting, with new ideas for drinks being generated by patrons and input enthusiastically received. Owner/operators Robbie Shulz and Paul Drennan are well aware of this necessity, saying, “we listen to the market and our ears are always open…you have to listen and you must adapt and change”.
It should also be mentioned that when imbibing such potable delights, food is always welcome. Quirky small plates like fried chickpeas, olives, and fried pork head with pickled fennel arugula salad are perfect accompaniments to any drink.
The Last Word is open from 7p.m. until 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday – come and see what the excitement is about!
~Jasmine Zweifler, feature writer