Too many delicious rickeys, too low a tolerance

So last night SPY celebrated the culmination of Rickey Month at the Passenger. If you haven’t read about it in a million media outlets, the rickey is the official drink of Washington DC. Dubbed “air conditioning in a glass” by the  Passenger’s Derek Brown, the rickey is exceptionally simple and refreshing. Just take 2 ounces of gin, a half squeezed Persian lime, sparkling mineral water, ice and voila! You have a gin rickey. To get a traditional bourbon rickey, just substitute bourbon for gin and a key lime for a Persian lime. 

DCspy at the Passenger

 The drink also comes with a hell of a story. You see (switch to Wild West voice), the rickey was invented one fine morning in 1883 when bartender George “King of Juleps” Williamson added half a lime to lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey’s “mornin’s morning,” of bourbon, sparkling mineral water, and ice at Shoomaker’s bar. The drink caught on instantly, first with bourbon and later with gin. But as its popularity grew, so did the Colonel’s HATRED of it. A “gentleman gambler,” politician, and drinker, the Colonel wanted to be remembered for his political prowess, not a trendy highball. Over time the resentment grew to a fury, which ultimately (ALLEGEDLY) resulted in his suicide.  

Shoomakers (14th and E NW, now a Marriott)

Quite a YARN. Every July is rickey month in DC. The DC Craft Bartenders Guild puts on a contest to see who in DC can create the best twist on the classic cocktail. They may use either gin or bourbon, but must it must be a highball and retain authentic citrus levels. By last night, the 26 contestants had been narrowed to 5 , they were:  

  • Salty Limey Ginny Thing (Adam Bernbach, Proof and Estadio): ALOT of salt and basil, almost pho-like in saltiness(thanks Ellie!), but it definitely grows on you as it dilutes
  • The Root of All Rickey (Alex Bookless, The Passenger): Has a spicy kick, ginger, and citrus. Really liked it, but you must like ginger
  • Rickey Ricardo (Gina Chersevani, PS7s): Known as the “Rickey Retardo” after a few, has coconut, cantalope and citrus. Sweet, but not TOO sweet. Very refreshing. Made with gin.
  • Smokin’ Joe Rickey (David Fritzler, Tryst): Strong smoke flavors…not my personal cup of tea
  • Lemon Balm Rickey (Dan Searing, Room 11): Bourbon rickey. Great reviews, but I didn’t get a chance to try it. Sad.


The gin rickey (via Loungerati) 

So what cocktail was the best? Sigh. The perils of an alcohol based contest. See, to “try” a drink, they made you order the entire drink, so let’s just say after my first 4, they all started to taste pretty damn good. In my opinion, it’s mostly a matter of flavor preference. They are all extremely different drinks (despite being based on the same drink), so you have to go with your mood.

I will update this post once the winner is declared. In the meantime, go to these places and try a goddamn rickey. It was made for the DC summer!

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