Many believe this drink was invented in 1898 in Boston in celebration of a recent election. This is absolutely false and this drink was not celebratory. It is unclear why this date was chosen, there was nothing significant about the political scandals in boston at this time. One thing is true though, this was loosely based on politics and it was created boston.
Some credit Martin M. Lomasney and Gilded Age restaurant Locke-Ober. This person and establishment have nothing to do with the drink whatsoever and it is undetermined why this is purported. This drink actually derives from the brutal battles that were held to capture votes in the 7th and 8th wards of boston from 1860 – 1890 and there is much literature supporting this as seen here:
Reports of proceedings … by Boston (Mass.). City Council in 1869
“Mr. Oborn of Ward Six, of the Committee on Ordinances, said the provisions referred to were no more stringent ban in the on motion of Mr. Squires of Ward Eight.”
It appears that squires would enter the wards and arrange agreements with immigrant gangs to “enforce” the votes in his favor, many people were injured and killed and this is exactly why the drink is the color red to represent boston’s bloodiest ward as seen here:
The Boston medical and surgical journal: Volumes 64-65 – Page 86 Massachusetts Medical Society, New England Surgical Society in 1861
“deaths were reported from the North End, from Wards Seven and Eight, and from South Boston. The disease seemed to follow very much the course of the foreign population, moving from Bridge Street down towards the North End”
The ingredients that are commonly served in this drink today weren’t available in the time of the creation of this drink and it is easy to see why it became what it is today. Rye Whiskey would have been the whiskey of choice had this drink been created in 1898, however, it was not and it is very likely that brandy was the base in this drink.
The grenadine addition was a subsititution for the absence of maraschino bitters, which is why this drink is served with a maraschino cherry today. Lemon juice was available of course, but this is completely contradicting of the era’s trend and the lemon peel would be far more likely to be used. There is no early literature suggesting sugar was used in this drink.
This drink dates between 1866 – 1889 and contained at least as of then:
Stir these ingredients:
Lemon Peel Garnish
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.