Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Revisiting the Gin Rickey

July is Rickey month. Most cocktailians are thinking about the DC Craft Bartender's Guild's 5th annual Rickey Competition. Every year, competing barmen and barwomen buzz with excitement over the ingenious variations that they've come up with.

I, on the other hand, have decided to revisit the original for this blog post.

Many people know this simple cocktail as a glass filled with gin or bourbon, lime juice and soda water. Yet, lots of people don't know that the Rickey was originally crafted with sparkling mineral water. According to Wikipedia:
"In 1883, Colonel Joe Rickey was purported to have invented the 'Joe Rickey', after a bartender at Shoomaker's in Washington, D.C. added a lime to his 'mornin's morning', a daily dose of Bourbon with lump ice and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water."
Celebrity craft bartender and Rickey enthusiast Derek Brown (a friend whom I believe is a supertaster) seems to prefer the mineral water in the Rickey over the more neutral club soda. 

Either way, the inclusion of this particular ingredient is fascinating in that it gives us just a little window into the sensibilities of the nineteenth century imbiber.

The Rickey

- 2 oz gin or bourbon (I like Old Tom Gin or Bulliet Borbon)
- sparkling mineral water
- juice from 1/2 lime

Add the spirit into a glass with ice. Squeeze half a lime into the glass, leaving in the shell. Add sparkling mineral water and stir a few times.

For this post, I chose a mineral water that has just hit the Washington D.C. market called American Summits. They generate a really refreshing product.

A little about American Summits: until now, fine bottled table water has been more-or-less led by European companies, as explained in detail by Eat The District

When I met the owner, Philippe Lajaunie, at this year's RAMMY awards, he essentially told me it never made sense to him that we imported so much bottled water into the United States from Europe.

It especially didn't make sense when we have perfectly good water coming from (according to BevNet) the 12,000 foot snowy peaks of Northern Wyoming.

Oh, and by the way, you might know Lajaunie from the famed Brasserie Les Halles.

Anyway, enjoy Rickey month and take the opportunity to sip some "air conditioning in a glass" during these sweltering days in the District.

And don't forget to check out the winner of this year's Rickey Competition toward the end of July.

Note: This post has been revised since its original publication


  1. I'm once again irritated that no amount of seltzer is given for the recipe. I'm not sure I've ever made a good Rickey before, and I'm going to try again tonight with mineral water. What's a good amount of water? The picture seems to suggest about 5oz?

    1. Pour to taste. In my experience, some people find the tartness a bit much so they make it a tall and add more sparkling.

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