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What's the Right Way to Make a Ward 8?

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With warring backstories and more variations than you can count, whiskey cocktails like the Old Fashioned, the Whiskey Sour, the Sazerac, and the Ward 8 inspire deep loyalties.

To the bartenders out there, it may seem strange to include both the Whiskey Sour and the Ward 8 here. Depending on the recipe, the Ward 8 looks to be a variation on the Whiskey Sour, but made with orange juice and grenadine. Though it very well may be a humble variation on the theme, its history earns it a place in the archives of classic cocktails.

A BOSTON BEVERAGE

The Ward 8's roots are firmly established in Boston. Although Boston is currently the site of a thriving cocktail scene, its contributions to the hallowed halls of cocktail history are almost nonexistent. In fact, the Ward 8 is the only cocktail known to have been invented there during the First Golden Age of Cocktails (between the 1860s and Prohibition).

Aside from its city of origin, the tipple’s exact story is about as murky as the Old Fashioned’s. The most famous myth about it claims that it was invented in 1898 at the Winter Place Hotel (later known as Locke-Ober). As the story goes, it was created to celebrate an election victory for Martin “The Mahatma” Lomasney, a local political boss. The drink was most likely named for the voting district, but this colorful story first appeared in a magazine in 1951.

At least one other account credits Locke-Ober as the cocktail’s birthplace, but without a date. Yet another claims it was invented at Lomasney’s Puritan Club in 1903. Like so many other things, the exact story has been lost to the fog of drinking history.

We do know that the Ward 8 was first mentioned in print in 1906. In A Bachelor’s Cupboard, a book by Amy Lyman Phillips, the cocktail is mentioned as a use for grenadine. Unfortunately, Phillips gives no hints as to where or by whom the drink was invented.

Unfortunately, tracking down the Ward 8’s original recipe is possibly more difficult than pinning down its history. Though Esquire named it one of the best cocktails of 1934, few breadcrumbs about its composition are left.

HIT THE LAB

More than 50 years ago, a New York Sun writer invited readers to send in recipes for the drink. About 400 people replied. Like the Old Fashioned, professional and home bartenders alike can tweak the amount of grenadine, citrus, or whiskey—or experiment with different types of whiskey—to make the libation their own. We like to think that the recipe below is close to the original, but who knows? You can pretty much make it however you’d like.

Ward 8
2 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz orange juice
1/2 oz grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake until chilled through. Strain into a coupe glass. Top with soda (or not).

And for a modern-day riff on the Ward 8...

Wards of Wisdom
Created By Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, Head Barman of Parliament in Dallas, TX.

1.5 oz Redemption Rye infused with cedar planks & leather
.75 oz Lemon juice
.75 oz Dry curaçao
.5 oz Grenadine
Orange peel and maraschino cherry, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin. Add ice, and shake vigorously until chilled through. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish by skewering the orange peel and maraschino cherry.

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What's the Right Way to Make a Sazerac?
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If you pronounce New Orleans "New Or-leens," or if you can’t get enough of those Big Ass Beers sold on Bourbon Street, you’re probably not actually from New Orleans. But if you’re feeling adventurous and missing the Big Easy, a Sazerac might be just what the doctor ordered. 

‘Tails and Stories

A few hundred years ago, you might have actually gotten a doctor’s order for a Sazerac. One of the drink's origin stories claims that it was invented by New Orleans apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud. According to this tale, Mr. Peychaud mixed up the drink with his eponymous bitters and served it in an egg coupe in his shop. 

A more likely origin story states that the drink was invented by a different New Orleans resident (though in the same neighborhood). Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar to Aaron Bird and went into the import business. One of his products happened to be Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils brandy. While Taylor was importing, Bird renamed his bar the Sazerac House and began serving a house cocktail that featured Taylor’s brandy and, as the story goes, bitters made by his neighborhood apothecary, Mr. Peychaud.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Europe's grape crops were decimated by an infestation of American aphids. In just four years, French wine production was cut by 67 percent, and even the most dedicated cognac drinkers switched to whiskey. For New Orleans, that meant switching to rye whiskey that was shipped to the city down the Ohio River and through the Mississippi. Thomas Handy, who owned the Sazerac Bar during that time period, likely switched the drink's main ingredient. This take on the signature cocktail is the one that found its way into the 1908 edition of The World's Drinks and How To Mix Them, with the recipe calling for "good whiskey," not Sazerac cognac. 

The origins of the Sazerac’s name is vague. It’s possible that it was a nod to the fact that it was the bar's house cocktail, but it’s also possible that it’s a reference to the brand of brandy. In those days, “cocktail” referred to a specific alcoholic drink format. As put forth by The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806, a “cock-tail” is “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” If you wanted this type of drink with whiskey in it, you would ask for a Whiskey Cocktail. If you wanted Sazerac brandy (until the aphid plague, at least), you'd ask for a Sazerac cocktail.

Hit the Lab

Sazerac Recipe:

2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
.25 oz simple syrup (or a sugar cube)
2 oz good rye whiskey (use the good stuff)
lemon peel for garnish

Place the sugar cube into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Dash the bitters onto the cube and muddle. Add whiskey and one large ice cube and stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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What’s the Right Way to Make a Caipirinha?
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Flickr User Janice Waltzer // CC BY 2.0

The Rio Olympics start in just a few weeks, and all eyes are on Brazil. To celebrate, we decided to focus on the country’s most famous cocktail creation: the Caipirinha.

In form, the Caipirinha is pretty much a Brazilian Daiquiri. It’s made from sugar, lime, and cachaça. Cachaça could be considered a cousin to rum, but it is altogether unique. While most rum is made from molasses, cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice.

Unlike rum, which can be made anywhere, cachaça can only be made in Brazil. Though it’s often sold unaged, it is usually matured in woods that are native to Brazil, like peanut and balm. As with wine, beer, and whiskey, different kinds of wood affect the product inside differently.

The classifications of cachaça aren’t based on the type of cask in which it’s aged. It can get a bit confusing: Spirit that is not stored in wood or is kept in stainless steel vats before it’s bottled is often called branca (white). But cachaça aged in wood that doesn’t color the liquor may also be labeled as branca. This category goes under several other names, including prata (silver) and clássica (classic).

Cachaça that’s stored or aged in wood is usually labeled as amarela (yellow), in reference to its color. These may also be labeled as ouro (gold). Envelhecida (aged) cachaça, a subtype of amarela, is a bit more involved: it’s considered aged if more than 50 percent of the content of the bottle has been aged for at least a year in a barrel that’s 700 liters or smaller.

Cachaça is the “third most produced distilled drink in the world,” according to Alcohol In Latin America: A Social and Cultural History. Though more than 5000 brands existed in 2008, it was relatively ignored outside of Brazil until the recent resurgence of craft cocktails. In fact, until 2013, it had to be labeled “Brazilian rum” to be imported into the U.S. As a result, it’s often mistaken by many people for being a type of rum.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know anything definite about the origins of the Caipirinha. Like the Mojito and the Old Fashioned, the formula was perhaps first used in folk medicine. Carlos Lima, the executive director of IBRAC (the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça) told Casa e Jardim that a mix of lime, garlic, and honey with a pour of cachaça was probably used in São Paulo around 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu.

As the story goes, someone eventually decided to skip the garlic and honey. Then, to balance the acidity of the lime, sugar was added. Over time, the drink spread into bars, ice entered the equation, and it became the Caipirinha we know today.

HIT THE LAB

Like the Mojito, the classic Caipirinha recipe is quite simple, but it’s also been the subject of many, many variations. We’ve included the International Bartenders Association (IBA) recipe as well as a modern take on the drink.

Caipirinha
Modified from the IBA website.

2 ounces Cachaça
1/2 of a lime
1 tablespoon sugar

Muddle lime and sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Fill with ice and pour cachaça over it. Stir and enjoy.

Prata B. (Puerto Rico Asta Ah Brazil)
Recipe by Luis Ramos, bar manager of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco.

1 3/4 ounces Avua Prata Cachaça
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce pineapple gomme syrup
1/2 ounce Pedro Ximenez sherry
1/4 ounce Punt e Mes
Grated nutmeg, lime zest, lime wheel for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a Collins glass. Add crushed ice and stir until glass frosts. Top glass with grated nutmeg, lime zest, and lime wheel.

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