At the corner of Huron and 1st — where urban Ann Arbor begins to blend into suburbia — sits the large sign that spells out “LIVE” glaring over the street. Yet, just around the corner off of Huron Street, an indiscriminate door in the wall leads to the basement of this building, introducing a vastly unique atmosphere to the world of Ann Arbor’s bar scene. Parading as an unassuming, practically unmarked door on that quiet stretch of Huron, The Last Word really is the hidden gem of Ann Arbor. This little hole in the wall is one of the best kept secrets among the newly turned 21-year-olds of the University’s undergraduate population.
A cursory google of the bar yields a website with little information other than its address, contact information and a slideshow of photos. Their Facebook page yields little more except for a slew of near-perfect ratings. It's an experience reserved for those willing to make the trip to the hidden corner, but one well worth it. The speakeasy style bar is covered in dark wood, dim lighting and photographs of times past. The space itself is small and warm, pairing perfectly with the menu and atmosphere.
The Last Word is most comparable to the generally popular Mash. The similarities end with their basement settings, however, as The Last Word differentiates itself in its expansive alcoholic offerings and diverse menu. The drink menu is expansive — broken up into chapters based on type of alcohol and flavor. Cocktail highlights include “Boy Blue” and “The Heist,” both deliciously crafted and tastefully balanced. They’re a far-cry from everyone’s typical go-to fishbowls from Charley’s, albeit pricier in exchange for their quality.
The cocktail menu also contains an extensive list of whiskeys and bourbons, featuring one-ounce “tasting pours” and two-ounce “sipping” sizes, allowing customers to try smaller samples of the spirits without having to pay for a full-sized glass. The lists of dark liquor cater to every palate and wallet imaginable — including more common bourbons like Jim Beam to the elusive, elite Pappy Van Winkle.
The food menu is concise, but varied in comparison to a typical cocktail bar. Most items are clearly designed for sharing, such as the charcuterie and cheese boards. The fries — flavored with one of three types of seasonings — are crisp and well-portioned, served with an additional three dipping sauces giving them a diverse flavor palette for the price. The menu isn’t overwhelming; it acts as a humble addition to the impressive drink selection and friendly ambience.
Thursdays at The Last Word feature an incredible jazz band, raising the speakeasy feel to new levels beyond the other days of the week. The band is catchy and entertaining, setting the mood unlike any other establishment in the Ann Arbor area. The bar’s secrecy makes their performances feel special, entirely reserved for the patrons lucky enough to find a seat on a crowded Thursday night. No matter the night of the week or occasion, The Last Word is the perfect boozy getaway.