Toast to Victory or Drown Your Sorrows: 5 Election Day Cocktails

A.J. Rathbun
Put a little “Pensiero" (aka "thought," which this drink is named for) into your election day traditions.

No matter what side you’re on during this year’s election, let’s hope we can agree on two things: First, that an election night party just isn’t the same without a good cocktail (that fits both a winning and a losing mood). And second, that the following drinks are better than any other election night cocktails. Because you can’t trust all those other drinks, people. But these drinks? These drinks you can trust.

Ward Eight
Perhaps the finest politically-inspired drink in history, this was created at Boston’s Lock-Ober restaurant to celebrate Mr. Martin Lomasney’s election as the Eighth Ward’s representative in the state legislature in 1898. This recipe is from Dark Spirits: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces rye, 1 ounce simple syrup, and 3/4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice. Shake well. Add 1/4 ounce good grenadine to the shaker and shake twice more. Strain into a goblet and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

This one has quite a kick, a name that matches the season, and is not too far from a classic whiskey sour. The recipe’s from Party Drinks (which is a good book no matter your political party): Add 1 ounce simple syrup to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass, and then add 2 ounces whiskey (bourbon works well), and 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice. Mix with a stir spoon. Add five or so ice cubes to the glass and stir again. Garnish with a slice of lime.

International Relations
Our elections don’t just affect us, but can have ramifications around the world. This drink, which boasts ingredients that are traditionally British (gin--though using a British style American gin like Voyager is okay), French (Amer Picon), and Eastern European (slivovitz), is a solid reminder of that fact when using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce slivovitz, 1/2 ounce  Amer Picon, and 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice. Shake well. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon slice.

This one takes the idea of “election day cocktails” a bit far afield, but I think it makes perfect sense. See, the word “Pensiero” means “thought,” and one hopes every voter has thought things through thoroughly. And it uses the frizzante Italian wine Brachetto d’Acqui, which is slightly sparkling; a sparkler is always good for celebrating. This recipe is from Champagne Cocktails: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice, 3/4 ounces Punt e’ Mes, 1/2 ounce Campari, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully. Strain into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui until it’s almost at the top and garnish with a lemon twist.

The Mood Indigo
If you’re a bit worn out by all the political ads (how couldn’t you be?), this may be the drink for you. As the video (below) demonstrates in faux-ad style, it’s time to stop the political back-and-forth hubbub and learn to love. Or at least learn how to make a tasty drink that bridges that ancient political divide between gin and Cognac with parfait amour, a liqueur that’s all about love.

Photo copyright 2010 Jerry Errico and Harvard Common Press.