The Ward Eight is a famous cocktail created in Boston that is considered a classic. But despite its reputation, it never completely convinced me. I see two problems with the Ward Eight. First orange juice is a difficult ingredient in cocktails. Orange does not have the acidity of lemon or lime, and often fails to balance the sweetness of the other ingredients. Then the drink also includes grenadine which is another problematic ingredient. I am not even talking about fake commercial grenadine which does not contain an ounce of pomegranate juice. Even good quality grenadine can easily take over a drink if you are not careful. And when combined with orange juice… Well let’s just say that even though the Ward Eight is a decent cocktail, I feel sad to use a good bottle of rye in this drink because most of its qualities are shadowed by the other ingredients.
I tried a few versions of the Ward Eight including this one from PDT that uses pomegranate molasses for the grenadine and was left feeling underwhelmed.
So I was curious when I came upon a “tropical” version of the Ward Eight that eliminated the grenadine and the orange juice alltogether… That sounded promising!
Brother Cleve’s Ninth Ward, which was created as an hommage to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, combines bourbon with elderflower liqueur and lime juice, with falernum as the sweet element, and Peychaud’s bitters for a nod to New Orleans. Instead of the elderflower liqueur I used my homemade elderflower cordial.
Ninth Ward (Brother Cleve)| 1.5 oz Bourbon | 3/4 oz Falernum | 3/4 oz Lime Juice | 1/2 oz elderflower cordial | 2 dashes Peychaud’s
It was the perfect cocktail to enjoy while watching a beautiful sunset. It was a bit tart with delicate floral flavors from the cordial and falernum, and a subtle liccorice finish from the Peychaud’s. It does have a certain tiki vibe even though it’s a bourbon drink. And this time you can still taste the nuances of the whiskey.
More information about the Ward Eight and the Ninth Ward:
- Entry in the Cocktail
- History of the Ward Eight by David Wondrich
- History of the Ninth Ward by Brother Cleve
- Video of Brother Cleve preparing the Ninth Ward