The Ward 8 cocktail isn’t as famous as its cousin, the Whiskey Sour, but it should be. Simultaneously sweet and spicy, this pre-prohibition potent potable is as easy to sip as it is to craft.
Everybody knows the Whiskey Sour. A fixture at every bar from Tulsa to Timbuktu, it perennially ranks as one of the world’s most popular cocktails.
The same can’t be said about the Ward 8 – a factoid that makes us scratch our heads. The two classic cocktails share amazing similarities and are equally easy to craft at home. Plus, in its favor, the Ward 8 has a vividly striking red hue.
Discover more colorful cocktails.
What Is the Ward 8 Cocktail?
The Ward 8 cocktail is a pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with four simple ingredients – rye whiskey, grenadine, lemon juice and orange juice.
Although it looks like it’s fruity-tooty thanks to its red cast, the Ward 8 is actually a serious drink with a deep back story.
History of the Ward Eight Cocktail
Most people don’t think about Boston when they imbibe classic cocktails but that’s the city where the Ward 8 was invented back in 1898. Sorry New Orleans and NYC!
While we don’t know who invented the drink, we can trace the Ward 8’s origins at Boston’s now-closed Locke-Ober. The cocktail was named after a politician named Martin Lomasney in honor of his election to the state legislature. Lomansney represented the eighth ward which was also where the restaurant was located.
Opened in 1875, Locke-Ober was Boston’s fourth oldest restaurant before it closed in 2012.
The Ward 8 ingredient list is both simple and short. In fact, you may already have the necessary ingredients in your home.
Don’t stress if you don’t have all of these ingredients. You should be able to easily buy the rye whiskey and grenadine at your local liquor store and the fruit at any market.
If you need to buy one ingredient, it’s most likely rye whiskey. If that’s the case, we recommend buying either Bulleit and Rittenhouse. They’re our personal favorites and hold a constant place in our liquor cabinet.
We chose to use Bulleit rye whiskey for this Ward 8 recipe. Notable for its spicy yet fruity flavors, Bulleit is produced in Larenceburg, Indiana with 95% rye and 5% malted barley. And, for those keeping tabs, it has a 45% ABV.
We won’t judge you if you choose to use bourbon instead of rye. In fact, some bartenders choose to go that route even if they have both liquors on hand. However, be aware that your finished cocktail won’t have the same spicy kick.
If you need to buy a bottle of grenadine, we recommend buying Monin’s version. This French company doesn’t add any artificial colors or flavors to its bright red pomegranate syrup. This approach makes it better than other commercial grenadine syrups. You can buy a bottle of Monin grenadine syrup from Amazon.
Discover our favorite grenadine cocktails.
How to Craft a Ward 8 Cocktail
Once you gather the tools and ingredients, the first step is to measure the rye whiskey with a jigger. We use a Japanese jigger to measure liquor for this and other cocktails. It enables us to get accurate measurements and clean pours.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Immediately pour the rye whiskey into your favorite shaker. We like to use a Boston shaker for this and other cocktail recipes since it doesn’t leak and is easy to clean.
Pour the lemon juice and orange juice, both freshly squeezed, into the same shaker.
You can use a jigger to measure the two juices; however, we like to use angled measuring cups instead.
Measure the grenadine with a measuring spoon and pour it into the shaker too.
Add ice to the shaker.
Shake until the liquids are chilled and combined. This step should take approximately 20 seconds.
Strain the shaken liquids into a coupe glass.
Using a chilled cocktail glass will enhance your sipping pleasure.
Garnish with an orange twist.
Feel free to replace the orange twist with a maraschino cherry or two. If you go this route, we recommend using Luxardo cherries.
Once you craft a classic Ward 8 cocktail at home, feel free to modify its recipe to your particular liking. Here are a few alternatives worth trying:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Ward 8 is pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with rye whiskey, grenadine, fresh lemon juice and fresh orange juice.
The Ward 8 was invented in Boston in 1898.
Rye Whiskey, Grenadine, Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice, Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice, Ice Cubes (for shaking) and an Orange Twist (for garnish)
The Ward 8 is shaken, not stirred.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
Ward 8 Recipe
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- ½ ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- ½ ounce orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 teaspoon grenadine
- orange peel ((garnish)
- ice cubes ((or shaking)
- Pour liquids into a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and shake until liquids are combined and chilled.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with an orange twist.
- You can replace the orange twist with a maraschino cherry or two.
- You can replace the coupe glass with a small martini glass.
Thirsty For More Rye Cocktails?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: September 24, 2023