Gin Rickey

Made in Washington, this uncomplicated drink balanced by its sweet and sour counterparts provides a refreshing release.

Our Favourite Recipe:

60ml Gin

15ml Freshly squeezed lime juice

8ml Pure Cane sugar syrup

Top up with sparkling water

Drop the squeezed lime shell into the glass

Shake the first three ingredients into a cocktail mixer with ice, before straining into a Collins glass and topping up with sparkling water.

As taken from Difford, Simon. Diffordsguide Cocktails, The Bartender’s Bible. 10th Edition.


George A. Williamson’s concoction was created to fit the Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joseph Kyle Rickey’s specifications in 1880 at a dive bar known as Shoomaker’s. Shoomaker’s in Washington DC was patronised by Rickey amongst other politicians and journalists, coming to be one of the more infamous of the bars around Washington during this time. Indeed the publican, William Shoomaker, epitomised the nature surrounding his marble clad haunt as it was said that he was able to drink a whole bottle of champagne without stop for breath.

Williamson and Rickey’s collaboration originally was made-up of a base of whisky, half a lime and a top up of soda; only later was it switched with gin and this soon became the preferred alternative of choice, rising significantly in popularity thereafter. Unexpectedly, limes were to prove even more central to Rickey’s life as his business became one of America’s biggest lime importers of the time.

However, Colonel Joe Rickey was not happy with the fame that he had gathered to the point that he even tried to refute it. By this time, he had bought and taken over Shoomaker’s, made available due to the death of the original owners, in which Williamson became the leading bartender.

Harry Johnson’s 1882 ‘Bartenders Manual’ was the first publication to print the Gin Rickey, emphasizing just how quickly this drink gained in popularity. Other alternatives included using brandy as the base. The Sheeney Rickey became a cocktail in its own right just through leaving out the squeezed lime rind.

Original Recipe:

1 or 2 pieces of ice

Squeeze the juice of 1 good-sized lime or 2 small ones

1 Wine glass of Tom or Holland gin

How to make it:

Fill up the glass with club soda, carbonic or selters if required, and serve with a spoon.

As taken directly from Johnson, Harry. Bartender’s Manual and a Guide for Hotels and Restaurants. 1882 New and Improved.

How to drink it:

To be enjoyed especially in those hotter muggy summer months, providing a cooling, even essential, relief.


July is “Rickey Month”

  Derek Brown (writer and award-winning mixologist who is also on the Board of the Museum of the American Cocktail) who also helped to make it an official “native cocktail” of Washington, describing it as an “air-conditioner in a glass.”