The Gin Rickey is a timeless classic people have enjoyed for over 100 years.
Crisp, refreshing, and simple, this iconic drink is perfect for any occasion.
Better yet, you won’t need special mixologist skills to whip up the Gin Rickey. If you can pour it without spilling it, you meet all the qualifications required!
What Is a Gin Rickey?
The Gin Rickey is a three-ingredient, gin-based cocktail that’s been around for over a century.
It’s a somewhat dry cocktail with a refreshing, lime-infused bite that dates back to the 1880s.
Then-lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey was a frequent patron of Shoomaker’s Bar in DC. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very impressed with the overly sugary options available.
He wanted something a bit crisper and more refreshing. So, the Shoomaker’s bartender whipped him up a drink with three simple ingredients:
- Lime juice
- Sparkling water
He called it “the Joe Rickey.” About 10 years later, someone had the idea to make the drink with gin instead. That’s when it really blew up.
The Gin Rickey has been popular ever since and usually comes with the same three ingredients. Let’s talk about those now.
The Gin Rickey differs from the original “Joe Rickey” in two ways. It substitutes gin for bourbon and club soda for sparkling mineral water.
Here’s the complete list of ingredients: (Don’t worry! It’s a short one!)
- Gin – London dry gin is the most popular choice for a Gin Rickey. I enjoy Opihr or good, old-fashioned Bombay. However, you can experiment with other gin varieties if you prefer. Remember, swapping to more floral- or citrus-based gins will alter the drink’s flavor.
- Lime juice – As is always the case when making cocktails, freshly squeezed lime juice is the only way to go. If you mix a lot of drinks, I highly recommend investing in a handheld juicer. (Such as the Monkkino lemon squeezer from Amazon.)
- Club soda – Any brand is fine, but ensure it’s fresh. You can also use sparkling or seltzer water if you prefer. The original Joe Rickey included sparkling mineral water.
The typical garnish for a Gin Rickey is a simple lime wedge. Stick it on the rim of your glass, and enjoy!
How to Make a Gin Rickey
There is no simpler cocktail to make than the Gin Rickey. It doesn’t even require any shaking or stirring! Follow these easy steps:
1. Prepare the drink. Start by adding a generous amount of ice to a highball glass. Then, pour in the gin and the lime juice.
2. Add the club soda. Top the drink off with club soda.
3. Garnish it. Add your lime wedge garnish. Then, serve and enjoy!
Yes, it really is that simple.
Tips and Tricks
The following are a few final tips to remember. You’ll also see a few variations to try!
- Use fresh lime. There’s something unbeatable about fresh lime juice in a Gin Rickey. Don’t skip the garnish, either. Squeeze in some more as you sip.
- Select fresh limes from the store. The lime juice isn’t the only thing that should be fresh. Ensure the limes themselves are as fresh as possible, too! Choose large, firm, richly green limes with few to no blemishes. You should be able to smell that distinct lime smell in fresh limes.
- Swap out the gin. Feel free to play around with vodka, rum, or other spirits. As mentioned above, the first Rickey was born of a request for a bourbon drink without sugar.
- Make it a mocktail. Swap out the liquor for some simple syrup if you’re not in the mood for booze. The result is a refreshing, non-alcoholic Lime Rickey.
- Give it a fruity twist. Use fruit-infused syrups to sweeten the drink and give it a fruity flair. Try raspberry syrup for a Raspberry Lime Rickey or cherry syrup for a Cherry Gin Rickey.
- Make it extra cold. One of my favorite things about the Gin Rickey is how easy it is to make. You don’t need any special equipment or anything. However, if you DO have a cocktail shaker nearby, you can shake the drink in it with some ice. That’ll make it much colder than simply pouring the ingredients into a glass.
What’s the Best Gin to Use?
The best gin for a Gin Rickey is a mid to high-level London dry gin. Although, as mentioned above, you can use whatever gin you like best.
In other words, you can get away with using a less expensive bottle of gin. I try to avoid anything too citrusy or flowery. But if you want to make your Gin Rickey with an aromatic, floral-forward gin, go for it!
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