Ward 8

This week I had the good fortune of being at work when two bartenders from Death and Company, Brian Miller and Joaquin Simo, came into town. Joined by Camper English, a favorite local spirits writer and a blogger-inspiration of mine, they warmed the bar for most of the night. Camper wrote about this Drink Jinx of an evening here.

Of course, we promptly started geeking out on all things bar- and cocktail-related:

“Who makes your shaking tins? No, not those ones, the other ones?” “Listen to the sound they make when you shake.”
“You still have some old Noilly Prat left? Lucky you.”
“Those are some sexy ice spears. Where do you get your molds?”
And there was one reference to a cocktail so delicious one might want to put a part of his anatomy into it.

I was referred to, at least once, as the “Queen of Syrup,” a moniker that brings me immense delight.

Once people learn that I make cocktail ingredients, they are usually interested in having a drink made with some. So Joaquin ordered a Ward 8, purportedly one of his favorite whiskey cocktails.

The Ward 8 or variably Ward Eight, is a cocktail originating in 1898 in Boston, Massachusetts at the bar of the Gilded Age restaurant Locke-Ober. In 1898 Democratic political czar Martin M. Lomasney hoped to capture a seat in the state’s legislature, the General Court of Massachusetts. Lomasney was nicknamed the “Boston Mahatma” and had held considerable power in the city for nearly 50 years. The story goes that the drink was created to honor his election, and the city’s Ward 8 which historically delivered him a winning margin. Competing, but unfounded myths abound in print and on the Internet. One story purports that it originated in New York in an area known for political corruption, another that the cocktail is a traditional drink of the Scottish Guards.

I’ve never been a huge fan of this drink; perhaps this is because I, like many, tend to drink my whiskey straight or in aromatic cocktails like manhattans and old-fashioneds. I often taste a “dirty” quality when mixing citrus into whiskey. I’m not sure where this comes from. I have noticed it is more prevalent with rye than bourbon. But made with a sweeter, richer, less spicy bourbon, the Ward 8 can be a lovely, integrated cocktail that nonetheless showcases the spirit quite well.

One note: These proportions are based on Small Hand Foods grenadine. If you make your own, or use commercial stuff, you may have to adjust the recipe to taste. I highly recommend making your own, as I have yet to find widely available grenadine that is made primarily of pomegranate juice. A good discussion on homemade product can be found via the lovely folks at egullet here.

Ward 8
2 oz whiskey
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
1/2 oz grenadine

Shake vigorously in mixing tins, then double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or orange twist, if desired.

One thought on “Ward 8

  1. Here in Boston it is a must know cocktail, but I rarely see them being ordered (although very popular when we brought the fixings to a recent election results party). It’s just a glorified whiskey sour with a better name and a better history.

    The recipe we use is 2 oz rye, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz homemade grenadine, although I have had the lemon-orange juice version before which does make for a somewhat smoother drink.

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