Gin Rickey: A Cocktail for Washington, D.C.

A cocktail that needs no lobbying as an ideal summertime refresher

Yes, there is an actual Rickey behind the Rickey—nineteenth-century lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey. During a heat wave in the 1880s, Rickey stopped at Shoemaker’s Saloon on Capitol Hill for his usual refresher, bourbon and soda over ice. Bartender George Williamson also squeezed in a half of a lime and that was it. About a decade later, bourbon was switched for more summery gin and the drink became a hit in D.C., where summer can be (pardon the expression) swampy. In D.C., July is officially Gin Rickey Month, and bartenders go crazy switching up the basic recipe. But Hollis Silverman, the D.C. restaurateur who is opening The Wells, a small club devoted to gin, prefers to honor traditions while using top-flight ingredients, as in the recipe below. “There’s enough club soda in there that I think you can have a couple of them,” she says. “It’s something you can sip on for a while.”


    • 2 oz. dry gin, such as Plymouth

    • ¾–1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

    • Club soda or sparkling mineral water, such as Topo Chico


  1. Fill a collins glass with chunky crushed ice. Add gin and squeeze in half of a juicy lime. Top with club soda.