The Perfect Drink to Celebrate (or Mourn) an Election
Here in the US, we have a big election coming up Tuesday, November 6th. We’ll be voting for President, not to mention other federal, state, and local offices. Many people are heartily sick of the whole process by this time (turn on the TV in “swing” states and it’s wall-to-wall political commercials). But we’re all curious to learn the outcome, so many of us will tune in to see the election results. And some people may even make a party of it.
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs and I certainly will be watching — and may elect to enjoy an adult beverage while consuming the political news.
Well, why not? Elections and booze have a long, cozy history. Politicians used to routinely
So let me introduce you to the Ward Eight, a cocktail devised to celebrate a 19th century election. It’s a smooth drink with nice tart undertones, perfect to celebrate your candidate’s win (or mourn his loss).
Recipe: The Ward Eight Cocktail
This drink is very similar to the Whisky Sour, and is made almost the same way. Like a Whiskey Sour, it requires whiskey (bourbon or rye) and lemon juice. It differs in that it adds orange juice, and substitutes Grenadine for Simple Syrup. This drink is almost always served “up” (chilled and in a cocktail glass, without ice), though it can also be served on the rocks.
Virtually every recipe for this drink uses the same set of ingredients, though the amounts may vary (especially the lemon and orange juice). I like David Wondrich’s version, but I’ll list some alternates in the Notes.
This recipe takes 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice (see Notes)
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (ditto)
- 1 teaspoon grenadine,preferably homemade (or to taste)
- orange slice and/or maraschino cherry garnish (very optional)
- Combine whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine in a cocktail shaker that is half filled with ice. Shake well for at least 30 seconds.
- Strain mixture into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice or maraschino cherry if you wish (I often don’t).
- The recipe directs you to shake the drink with ice. This does more than make your cocktail cold. It also somewhat dilutes the drink (with melting ice), adding volume and an important dimension to the final flavor. And because this drink contains citrus juice, shaking is the easiest way to thoroughly mix and incorporate the ingredients (stirring comes up short with citrus).
- Some recipes specify as little as ½ ounce each of lemon juice and orange juice in this drink, while others increase both to 1 ounce. You can try these variations and see if you prefer the drink made either way — although in the first instance I find there’s not enough juice, while in the second there’s too much. Some recipes also specify twice as much lemon juice as orange juice. I like this variation, but usually go with equal amounts.
- This drink was originally made with rye (the favored whiskey in the northeast, where the drink originated), but these days it’s more often made with bourbon. I like it either way, although I tend to use rye a bit more (rye is spicier than bourbon).
- I wouldn’t use expensive spirits in this drink since their nuances will be overpowered by the lemon, orange, and grenadine. Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond rye (if you can find it) makes a superb Ward 8.
- Evan Williams has become my bourbon of choice for cocktail making, but any bourbon will work. (Well, avoid bottles with plain white labels that merely say “Bourbon” in big black letters).
- If you use grenadine at all frequently in cocktails, you owe it to yourself to make Homemade Grenadine. I’ll let you consult my post for the reasons why.
Elections and Booze
The history of this drink is a bit murky (as is the case with many cocktails) — and it probably reflects some tall tales. Tall tales and politics? Go figure!
At any rate, the standard story says that this drink was created at Boston’s Locke-Ober’s restaurant in 1898 to celebrate the election victory of Martin Lomasney (a/k/a the Boston Mahatma, a/k/a Czar of Ward 8), who was seeking a seat in the Massachusetts state legislature. Lomasney was the local political machine’s power broker in Ward 8 (at Boston’s South End). Good machine politician that he was, his held his victory party the night before the election. You know, because all the political bigwigs just knew that people would vote the “right” way!
But of course, Lomasney’s story wasn’t the first to combine politics and booze. In 19th century Britain, “vote buying” was common. Sometimes this meant giving voters cash, but more often it involved treating them to food and strong drink. Pub owners loved election season because they always enjoyed a windfall, courtesy of free-spending parliamentary candidates. Sometimes, a candidate’s entire “campaign” involved nothing more than buying voters copious amounts of alcohol.
A similar pattern occurred here in the US. In George Washington’s first bid for elected office — he ran for Virginia’s House of Burgesses in 1757 — he won only 40 votes out of 581 cast in a three-way race, in part because local tavern owners urged their patrons to vote against him (he supported some measures that interfered with their business). Washington learned his lesson. When he ran for office again the next year, he generously treated voters to strong punch (presumably purchased from those same tavern owners) — and won easily.
Eventually, elections became so boozy that many states enacted “blue laws” prohibiting the sale of alcohol during the hours that polls were open. Which meant that citizens may have become more clear-headed about choosing whom to vote for. But the laws did nothing to improve the caliber of the candidates. Sometimes it seems like a race to the bottom, doesn’t it?
So this Tuesday, treat yourself to a Ward 8. If your candidate loses, you’ll need the consolation.
And if your candidate wins? Well, you might want to drink two Ward Eights. Because, politics being what it is, you may need the consolation even more.
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I always enjoy your cocktail recipes...I'm sure there are literally thousands to taste. Perfect photo as always.
magnifique photo qui donne envie ..... merci de m'en offir 1 LOL.....
This cocktail is one of the prettiest you've made considering I'm not allowed to comment on flavour yet ;)
Choc Chip Uru
I like the way you think! I need to get my election night food and drink in order ASAP!
And let's toast to the right candidate winning. It could be a long night for all of us. Beautiful pics, by the way!
If it's got whiskey in it, then it's not for me but it is perfect for an election night. I always imagine them in those smoke-filled rooms drinking neat whiskey. I love the shots against the white background.
I know I will be at local pizza joint that night to have dinner with friends but we'll be at home by the time the big outcome is for sure (if for sure who knows how close it might be!) I will need a drink definitely.
This is my first vote as an American citizen! So I will need a drink for that too :)
Hi Karen, I haven't scratched the surface of cocktails I could prepare! They're loads of fun both to prepare and to drink. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
Hi Snoupette, I'd love to offer you one! Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
Hi Uru, one of these days you'll be of age, and then you can start tasting these beauties! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Alyssa, you definitely need to get some goodies in the house for following the election returns! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, we're looking forward to toasting our candidate! Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
Hi Suzanne, you could try this cocktail with an aged amber rum - it would probably be pretty good. But it really is designed for whiskey. I like the white background shots, too; in fact my favorite shot is actually the last one. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ilke, congrats on your first vote as an American citizen! That's really exciting. And that alone is well worth a celebratory drink. Thanks for the comment.
You know I love learning about different cocktails from you, you always share such interesting info too! This actually does sound like a perfect drink to enjoy on election night. Thank you so much for all the cocktail help, I am having fun learning all I can....but there is so much to learn:-) Take care, Terra
This looks perfect!
What a gorgeous drink!!! Perfect to win a few votes ;)
Hi Terra, so many cocktails have such fascinating history! They're so much fun to explore (and even more fun to drink!). Enjoy this on Tuesday! ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Reem, isn't it pretty? If you find the drink too sweet and use less grenadine, it will be a bit more orange - but still a pretty color. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, this drink sure got my vote! Thanks for the comment.
Finally, a less-than-virtuous election story that doesn't involve Chicago! I was about to seek out a ward map. So, to celebrate, make mine a double. Don't worry. I voted last week. :)
I like the sound of this drink. Photos are great too. I liked reading the history behind the drink.
I've been hearing so much about your election as it's on our news all day every day so I too will be very pleased when it's all done and dusted. I think definitely, you need a drink in hand while watching the election xx
Hi John, one double coming up! And since you voted last week, you already know who's going to win. ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Dawn, it's a really nice drink - quite refreshing. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
Hi Charlie, it must be really annoying for you hearing about our elections. And we definitely do plan to enjoy a cocktail - or two - while watching the election returns. Thanks for your comment.
I love the colour of that drink specially on the black background
That cocktail looks fabulous! It will be very interesting to see who gets voted in.
I voted! Nobody told me I'd get a cocktail, much less one this delicious. Probably no chance you'd deliver one if my man wins?
Hi Raymund, it's a pretty drink! And most colors look so vibrant against a black background! Although with this set, I think I might almost prefer the white - tough decision! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ali, it will indeed be interesting to see the results. We'll be having a cocktail either way. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, you should probably vote again so you get your cocktail. ;-) I'd be happy to deliver one to you! Better yet, why don't I just go over there and make it fresh? It'd be so much better! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I've learned so many cocktail recipes from you since this summer and I enjoy reading about it every time (and how interesting to read about Elections and Booze. :) Tomorrow is my husband's birthday but guess we'll be watching TV, and will make some cocktail for him using your recipe!
When you stay up late to catch all the election results, a wonderful cocktail is the perfect accompaniment. After all, you can either drown your sorrows or toast the victories (depending on what happens that night). ;)
Hi Nami, Happy Birthday to your husband! The Ward 8 makes a nice birthday cocktail, too. ;-) Have fun tomorrow. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Carolyn, you've got it! And we'll definitely be having one of these. Thanks for your comment.
One of these days you need to post a picture of your liquor cabinet! I bet you have a whole pantry dedicated to alcohol and all the related items needed to supply a full selection of wonderful cocktails! Wish I had some grenadine. I'd definitely be making this but since I don't, I'll be making an Old-fashion and by the end of the evening I'll either be drowning my sorrows or celebrating. Hope it's the latter.
Hi MJ, we probably do have a great variety of liquor bottles than most folks so that would be a fun photo to take! You can buy Rose's grenadine at any supermarket, but its flavor isn't that good - if you don't want to make your own, the Old-Fashioned is a terrific drink. Since it was the favorite of Harry Truman (you know - Dewey beats Truman ;-) ) it'd be a very appropriate election drink. Thanks for your comment.
What a beautiful color and a wonderful cocktail! Those flavors are delightful.
Hi Rosa, isn't this a pretty drink? And as you point out, wonderful flavors too! Thanks for your comment.
With either white or black background, I'm deeply attracted by its intense bright colour of this drink. Are you happy with the election result?
Hi Zoe, too early to get much in the way of election results, but I expect I'll be happy. This drink has great color, doesn't it? Really nice stuff. Thanks for the comment.
John, I would make this just to look at the gorgeous color! Sounds delish too - yummy!
How do you get those great shots? Do you have a black board? or dome?
I think I really could use one or two of this delicious cocktails as even here, all the way in Hong Kong, the politicians feel the urge to call me on US time (2am HK time) to tell me how great they are. Take care, BAM
Hi Donalyn, well worth making! And it's delicious even when you don't have an election to celebrate. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bam, on the shots with the black background, I have black foamcore in the background. Usually the light is coming from the back and a bit to the side, which also helps make the background black (and if it isn't totally black, it's a 1 second fix in post production). Don't you love all those robo calls? So glad the election is over so we can stop all that nonsense. Thanks for the comment.
Haha, this is great. Thanks for this history lesson, and I'm loving the ingredients in this cocktail!
Hi Kristi, isn't this fun? And timely! ;-) It's a really nice cocktail - worth trying whether there's an election or no. Thanks for the comment.
Gorgeous drink! I really enjoy your information too!
Hi petit4chocolatier, thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
This cocktail looks right up my alley! I'm so glad the elections are finally over. I live in one of those swing states and I was so tired of it all. I wish I'd had this drink to help ease the pain! ;-)
Hi Kristy, the elections did get a bit old, didn't they? This is a wonderful drink for elections, but it's good anytime - very refreshing. A pretty good warm weather drink, actually. Thanks for the comment.
Beautiful picture and interesting write-up as always! I wonder if the "blue laws" are still in effect.
Hi Biren, I know in some states there still are blue laws, but they're much reduced from what they used to be. And I don't know if any of the blue laws concerning elections are still on the books. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
This sounds so good. I'm definitely going to make this one.
Hi Tia, isn't this a nice cocktail? Flavorful, and so pretty. Thanks for the comment.
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