Wooden Nickel (Ward 8)
SRV Negroni (SRV)
McGrale's Bullhorn (Tavern Road)
“Don’t take any wooden nickels” is solid advice. But you’ll be forgiven for forgetting the maxim at Ward 8, the dimly lit restaurant and bar positioned between TD Garden and the North End. Ordering up a Wooden Nickel cocktail is just plain common sense.
“It’s almost a cross between a tiki and a highball,” says Ward 8’s general manger and beverage director Mike Wyatt. This is a concoction rife with contradictions: It’s built on a foundation of rye but makes use of orgeat, a sweet almond liqueur that’s a bona fide tiki staple. It drinks like an easy highball thanks to lemon juice and strongly brewed Earl Grey, yet it comes in a rocks glass.
So what does this hybrid taste like? It’s the perfect compromise for the drinker torn between an old-fashioned and a highball. Old Overholt’s rye kick is there, all right, but it’s tempered by the sweet lemon and orgeat. The entire drink gets a refreshing aura from the Earl Grey and a final splash of ginger beer, and a thyme garnish round it all out with an herbal aroma.
“There wasn’t a rhyme or reason,” Wyatt says of the garnish choice. Even the name was born of pure experimentation: Wyatt has maintained a running list of prospective cocktail names (now over 100 strong) since Ward 8 opened.
“It’s like naming a pet,” Wyatt says. “What’s funny is we have some names we’d love to use but don’t work out so well.”
Nevertheless, a quick glance at the titles gracing Ward 8’s extensive cocktail menu—Mustache Ride, Love In An Elevator, Soy Capitan!—confirms that they’ve dreamed up some real winners.
1½ ounces Old Overholt Rye
¾ ounce Earl Grey tea*
½ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ ounce orgeat
1 ounce Gosling’s Ginger Beer
Sprig of fresh thyme, for garnish
Lemon wheel, for garnish
Combine ingredients in shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with thyme and lemon wheel. Serve.
*Earl Grey Tea (yields 3½ ounces)
½ cup loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
1 cinnamon stick, smashed
4 ounces water
Mix loose leaf tea with pieces of cinnamon stick. Brew in water for thirty minutes.