The Ward 8 is probably our house favorite – a delicious variant on the whiskey sour that kicks it up a notch. Sweetened with grenadine and orange juice instead of simple syrup, it is more complex, with a near perfect blend of tartness and sweet, boozy and refreshing. I make it almost every time we have fresh OJ in the house.
The Generic Sour Formula and the Ward Eight
What I call the Generic Formula for a sour is 2 parts Spirit, 1 part Sour, 1 part Sweet, but most sours deviate from this significantly. This is partly due to the relative acidity or alcohol content of different ingredients (drinks sweetened with Cointreau need a hair less of the primary spirit, for example), but also because today we tend to like our cocktails more spirit-forward and less sweet. The Ward Eight is a sour variant that follows these proportions precisely though, thanks to the high tartness of the orange juice sweetener and the addition of a heavy dash or thin quarter ounce of Grenadine. These straightforward proportions also make it quite easy to remember the recipe!
The Ward Eight is also one of the few cocktails known to hail from Boston – named for an electoral district that sent a long-time backroom boss to the legislature. Ironically, this boss was a prohibitionist, so he ended up closing down the bar that invented the drink that celebrated his win. I guess they should have called it the Martin Lomasney – maybe more pronounced kow-towing would have kept them in business. The bar reopened in the 50’s and has been making this award-winning, but somehow obscure, cocktail since.
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 1 oz Orange Juice fresh squeezed
- 1 oz Lemon Juice fresh squeezed
- 1 dash Grenadine or more to taste
- Shake liquid ingredients
- Strain into rocks glass over ice
- Garnish with cherry
For further exploration
My research indicates that the traditional way to make the Ward 8 is actually different than my recipe: up, with half the juice I usually use. I’ve tried this Bourbon-forward version, and prefer my version, but check out both and see for yourself. I have not tried adding the Massachusetts state flag to the toothpick used for the cherry, which is apparently also traditional. I wonder if there other drinks that have literal flags involved? Clearly, I need to dig more here.