KD’s grandmother, RB, doesn’t usually order a cocktail when out for dinner, but when she does, she orders a Ward 8. While there are a few competing theories floating around on the internet, it’s generally accepted that The Ward 8 was invented at Boston institution Locke-Ober, in 1898.
The lore is that it was created to celebrate the political boss of Boston’s eighth ward, Martin Lomasney, being elected to the Massachusetts General Court. In some versions of the story, this party took place a day before the actual election. Strangely, Lomasney, a prominent politician also known as the “Boston Mahatma”, was actually a prohibitionist, and likely never sampled the drink crafted in his honor.
Searching the internet provided us with many variations of this drink and, of course, everyone claims that their version is the “real” recipe. We went with this one from Wikipedia, which is supposedly the recipe Locke-Ober used when they re-opened the bar after the “Noble Experiment” of Prohibition.
While some recipes call for using bourbon, this is probably not authentic, as rye was the more popular whisky in pre-prohibition era cocktails, particularly in the northeast. The Ward 8 is very similar to a whisky sour, with the addition of orange juice and using grenadine syrup instead of sugar. In addition, a couple recipes insist that a Ward 8 is not complete without a splash of claret, but this view is definitely in the minority. Like a whiskey sour, the drink can be garnished with a cherry, an orange slice or both. KD’s grandmother orders the drink without any garnish, or as she says, “without the garbage”.
Rye has a fairly spicy character, but the addition of orange juice brought a roundness that balanced out the tartness of the lemon juice and the sharpness of the whisky. We here at Hungry Native usually find most cocktail recipes to be too sweet, so we initially tried it with only half the grenadine, but it seemed incomplete. The second time around we used the full amount, and the additional sweetness brought all the separate ingredients together, making a more cohesive cocktail. The Ward 8 is a well-rounded cocktail that deserves its place alongside such better-known classics like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned.
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