Meet Giancarlo Aversa, principal bartender at The Last Word in Ann Arbor. A classically trained pianist, Aversa got his start in 2000 at BD's Mongolian BBQ in downtown Ann Arbor. From there, he went to on to Good Time Charley's, beloved University of Michigan bar, and then a few others, including, Babs' Underground Lounge before landing at The Last Word.
"My favorite cocktail to make is one that is going to excite the person drinking it."
Over the years, he's honed his skills. "I love making cocktails. I like learning new ones. And truthfully my favorite cocktail to make is one that is going to excite the person drinking it," Aversa says. "I really enjoy the look of anticipation on one's face when they are presented with their drink."
When he's off the clock, Aversa typically takes a whiskey neat or a Campari and soda. And if he's in the mood for a cocktail, it's either a classic daiquiri with Rhum J.M. or his "all-time favorite" — a "Hanky Panky" with Junipero, Carpano Antica, and Fernet Branca.
At The Last Word, the cocktails are as seasonal as the food. The bar is currently in the midst of its fall menu rollout with a new list of drinks that includes the "Mulling About Town" — a mulled spice bourbon boulevardier. Although, the bar keeps a standard menu of libations fit for any season.
"I really enjoy the look of anticipation on one's face when they are presented with their drink."
While one might expect "The Last Word" (which originated at the Detroit Athletic Company) is the most sought-after drink at it's namesake bar, it's actually "The Osborn," a gin-based drink with fresh pineapple, jalapeno, lime, and ginger beer. "It's been on the menu since we opened in 2012," Aversa says.
"I was in the process of developing the cocktail and trying it on my friend Todd Osborn. He really enjoyed it and after finding out that I hadn't named it yet suggested that I name it after him. It sounded good to me and I went with it," he recalls. "People really like it and I am humbled by how popular it has become."
Visit Aversa and try "The Osborn" or his favorite, "Hanky Panky," and on Thursdays, catch him on piano with "The Pherotones" as they play jazz, pop, "and fantasies on classic themes."