Friday Happy Hour: The Gin Rickey

Our nation’s capital is, in many ways, a really great city.  Nole and I have called it home for about a decade and we have no plans to leave any time soon.  But that’s not to say DC doesn’t have its drawbacks, not the least of which is the oppressively hot and humid summer.  Last summer, it got as hot around here as it was in Baghdad and we’ve already had days in the 80s (in early March!).  Congress gets to go on recess during the summer, but for the rest of us who aren’t so lucky, there’s the Gin Rickey.

Read below for the full recipe!

The Gin Rickey

2 oz Gin
1 Half Lime
Sparkling, Carbonated, or Tonic Water

Juice half a lime into a highball glass and drop the lime shell in too.  Add the gin, fill the glass with ice, and top with the carbonated water.  Give it a stir and enjoy.


Here’s what you get: one of the most refreshing, cooling drinks I’ve ever tasted.  It’s tart, crisp, bubbly, and gloriously cold.  If ever there was a cure for August in DC, this is it.  It’s no wonder that the Rickey became DC’s official cocktail last July.

The Rickey is one of the few drinks the history of which is well known.  Joseph “Colonel Joe” Rickey was a Missouri Democrat and political operative who stumped for Grover Cleveland (who won!) and Williams Jennings Bryan (who didn’t).  During the 1883 campaign, Rickey was a fixture at Shoomaker’s bar in DC which was – I believe – located where the JW Marriott is now at 14th and Pennsylvania NW.  Rickey ordered his signature drink more than once (many more, I’m guessing) at Shoomaker’s, the bartender decided to name it after him, and the rest is delicious history.


You can make a Rickey with pretty much any spirit you want, but thanks to Derek Brown and David Wondrich, we know gin and whiskey are the original options.*  I also tried it with Genever instead of gin and the verdict is: wow.  Let’s call that a Dutch Rickey.

* Wondrich’s book Imbibe! is, by the way, essential reading for anyone interested in cocktails or America’s drinking history.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

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