Crown ethers have the remarkable property of recognizing and binding specific metal cations in complex mixtures. We propose to combine molecular recognition with molecular electric conductance. The question we address is: can the event of binding a cation be sensed by a change in conductance? Specifically, we study a short molecular wire (MW) containing a crown-6 molecule connected via sulfur atoms to two gold atomic wires acting as metallic leads. Upon binding a cation, the density of states of the system is only slightly affected. This reflects the fact that the cation binding is largely electrostatic in nature and is accompanied by little electronic reorganization. Yet, the cationic binding does significantly lower conductance. We also identify strong interference affecting the conductance. A striking feature is the insensitivity of conductance to the type of ligand with the exception of the proton.