Gin Rickey


With Thanksgiving around the corner and we experience the last few bits of fall, it is only natural we cling to the cool, relaxed feel we once experienced during the summer. The Gin Rickey is perfect for the weather and to order something a lot more sophisticated than a gin and tonic at a bar.

Fans of gin already know the Rickey, so newcomers pay attention- the Gin Rickey is a logical choice, a classic summertime cooler that consists of gin, fresh lime juice, and seltzer on the rocks in a highball glass.

This drink may be good to cool off, but if you’re one of those people that enjoys ice cold drinks during the wintertime, this should be a walk in the park for you.

It’s basically a less sugary, more sophisticated, gin and soda. The lime is prominent so if you’re not into citrus, you won’t dig it.



The story of the Gin Rickey is a wild one, it didn’t always start with gin as the main ingredient… Legend has it, Colonel Joe Rickey, a known gentleman gambler who often placed bets on the outcomes of various political contests and also a known Democrat, started it all with a bet. On Friday, Nov. 30, 1883, Joe was at Willard’s bar in Washington D.C. after a night of wild political outcomes.

Grover Cleveland had just been sworn in as the new president of the United States and a new Democratic majority dominated the House of Representatives. The crowd at the bar was trying to guess and debating who would be the new House Speaker. Samuel J. Randall was a shoe in and crowd favorite, but a wild card southerner named John G. Carlisle also had a pretty good shot.

Never one to back down from a bet Rickey shouted out that he would bet $1,000 to $500 that Carlisle would be nominated by the caucus the following evening and that he would be elected speaker the following Monday. A bold move for the times… But Rickey wasn’t an idiot when it came to his bets, he always had a leg up, and tons of insider information.

The men who bet against him lost when Carlisle was elected. The winnings were substantial to say the least— $500 to be exact — which is equal to or just over $11,000 today. After a night of celebrations and hard core partying the men suffered a horrible hangover at the inauguration of Carlisle. Back then the cure for a hangover was similar to today’s- more drink.

Rickey and his crew stopped by another local watering hole and Rickey declared it that he would invent a drink right there and then. He saw what was available (lime and seltzer) directed the barkeep to squeeze fresh juice in a glass, followed by crushed ice, and then top it off with bourbon. Yep, that’s right the Gin Rickey was once made with whisky.

And though there’s many versions of Colonel Joe Rickey’s preferences when it came to drinks, or even how he felt about it, the most important point is that the drink itself was named after him.

It wasn’t until a decade later that someone got bold with the ingredients and swithced it to gin. Considerably, a cocktail revolution, when Joe walked into a bar in 1903 and ordered his drink he was stunned. Pleased, but also a bit insulted, regardless the Gin Rickey lived on and is preferred that way.

We do hope it wasn’t the cause and effect of his death, as he committed suicide by poisoning that same year… So next time you order a Gin Rickey at the bar, toast it in his honor!


Random Fact:

The gin rickey makes an appearance in Chapter 7 of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby. It actually takes part of one of the most momentous instances within the book. When Jay Gatsby, the narrator, Nick Carraway, have been invited to lunch at the home of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. With the temperature hot and the mood intense, Daisy tells Tom (her husband) to “make us a cold drink,” since it was, according to the narrator “certainly the warmest, of the summer.” When Tom leaves the room, Daisy kisses Gatsby and professes her love to him, and as soon as Tom returns he brings with him four gin rickeys.

From The Great Gatsby, to even an episode on The Simpsons (episode “Burns, Baby, Burns”) when Mr. Burns is drinking a rickey when introduced to his illegitimate son. This goes to show that anyone can create their own drink, if you mix it up really well, and if you make sure to spread the word far enough. They all had to start somewhere, so if you’re looking for a sign on whether you should start working on what you really want to do, take this as one.

In the spirit of Joe, let the gin rickey inspire you to go after what you really want and to not be scared of failure. This drink, just like most, evolved over time, it wasn’t amazing from the very start, but the man who invented it was bold enough to declare it. So go out there and spread the word about the gin rickey, and inspire other people to also go after their dreams. You got this.

Let us know what you thought of the drink! Send us a picture of you holding this drink, and don’t be afraid to experiment at a party in order to make it your own. After all, that is how all drinks are created, someone has to be brave enough to try something new.

Thanks for reading, and as always…

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City

Happy Hour City