How to Make the Ward Eight, or two versions of a perfect summer afternoon cocktail.

How to Make the Ward Eight CocktailThis cocktail is rumored to have been created in 1898 to celebrate  the imminent election of Martin M. Lomasney, “the czar of ward eight”, to the General Court of Massachusetts.  Mr. Lomasney’s friends were so confident of the his victory that they asked Tim Hussion, bartender of the Locke-Ober Café in Boston to concoct a cocktail to honor their friend and his strongest supporters: the 8th Ward.  There is also a bit of humor behind this cocktail as not only were they celebrating Mr. Lomasney’s victory the night before the election was actually held, but Mr. Lomasney himself was a staunch prohibitionist.  After tasting this cocktail for the first time, I don’t know how it could make anyone anything but a strong supporter of spirits.

The Ward Eight (Modern Version)
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz orange juice
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz grenadine*

Pour all ingredients over ice in a shaker.  Shake until the cocktail has chilled, and strain into a coupe glass.  Serve chilled and enjoy.  This modern take on the Ward Eight follows a 4:1:1:1 ratio of rye to the rest of the ingredients.  It offers a beautifully balanced cocktail which is perfect for summer afternoons, with a great burst of citrus, some tangy notes from the rye and lemon, and sweetness from the orange and grenadine.  The cocktail also has a beautiful orange-pink hue that is somewhat reminiscent of grapefruit juice.  The historical version of this drink is more of a twist on a whiskey sour than the modern version and is composed as follows:

The Ward Eight (Historical Version)
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon of grenadine*

Pour all ingredients over ice in a shaker, shake, pour and serve.  This recipe follows a 2:1:1 ratio of rye to juices and is finished with a barspoon of grenadine.  While the additional orange juice does add a touch of sweetness that would otherwise have been lacking due to less grenadine, this cocktail definitely tastes more like an interesting twist on a whiskey sour than it’s own unique drink.  The color of this cocktail is also much lighter, more yellow in hue when compared with the brighter orange-pink notes of the modern version. Both versions of the Ward Eight deserve a taste, but I personally favor the modern adaptation to the more historically accurate recipe.

*A Note on Grenadine:  I highly recommend that you make your own grenadine for this cocktail (and all cocktails for that matter) as the flavor is key to the ultimate profile of the drink.  Red dye, artificial flavoring and corn syrup just won’t cut it in this case.  A simple homemade grenadine can be made by mixing one part unsweetened pomegranete juice with one part cane sugar, and shaking in a mason jar until combined.  Your cocktails will thank you.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.16

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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Rye

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Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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