Gin Rickey

Tart, simple and strong, the fizzy Gin Rickey is the classic old-school cocktail you didn’t know you needed.

Gin Rickey

Throughout my adult life, whenever I heard the words “Gin Rickey” (and it was rare), my brain would always jump to an exciting Prohibition party during the Roaring ’20s, where flappers wildly danced the Charleston, and drunken gentlemen in sharp tuxedos slid around the dancefloor, sipping on their Gin Rickeys. Blame my high school years for that, when I poured over F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age classic “The Great Gatsby” with an armchair archaeologist’s fascination. In that book, Gatsby’s party guests would imbibe Gin Rickeys in “long greedy swallows”, a description that always struck my teenage mind as a great way to say “damn, these are good.”

My assumption was always that the Gin Rickey was born out of speakeasies and clandestine, yet opulent, garden parties. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the actual origins of this legendary cocktail…

In 1880s Washington D.C., lobbyist and Civil War veteran Colonel Joe Rickey would often frequent his favorite watering hole, a bar called Shoomaker’s. This place was a far cry from the sophisticated grounds of Jay Gatsby’s Long Island mansion. In 1909, author Elbert Hubbard wrote of it: “… the place is guiltless of paint, and the architecture is an eyesore to the surrounding neighbors… The shabbiness of the place is its asset; the cobwebs are its charm.” That’s a far cry from where I had initially thought the cocktail hailed from. Rickey himself usually enjoyed a bourbon highball at Shoomaker’s, and one day added lime juice to it. Lo and behold the Rickey was born!

When American tastes began to shift in preference from whiskey to gin, the latter version of the Rickey, the Gin Rickey, soon overtook the original and eclipsed it in popularity. Being a rye and bourbon man, this irked Colonel Joe until the end of his life in 1903. Decades after his death, in 2011, Washington D.C. declared the Rickey its official cocktail.

What is a Rickey?

A Rickey is a type, or category, of cocktail. Like a Sour, for example. You can have a Whiskey Sour, a Vodka Sour and so on. The same with a Rickey. Switch one spirit out for another and you’ll have a nice variety of drinks. Try the original bourbon-based version or give your taste buds a treat with a Rum Rickey. Any Rickey is a good Rickey.

What is the best gin to use in a Gin Rickey?

As I close my eyes at night and drift off to sleep, one of my lingering thoughts is “I hope my readers have a good bottle of London Dry on their shelf.” When making most gin-based cocktails, whether its a Gin Rickey or a Vesper Martini, a good strong London Dry will never let you down. Some are more juniper forward, while others are more balanced in their flavor infusion. It all depends on your own tastes. That’s also why I encourage you to try other gins apart from a London Dry in this drink. Scottish and California gins have a lot of different, crisp and interesting profiles, such as cucumber and sea kelp, that can make your Rickeys more than memorable.

Gin Rickey
Servings 1
5 minutes


  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 1/2 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Club soda chilled, to top off
  • Garnish: lime wheel or wedge


  • Fill a highball glass with ice to chill it and let it sit while you gather your ingredients. Once your glass is chilled, discard the ice and fill with fresh ice cubes to the brim.
    Gin Rickey
  • Pour 2 ounces of gin over the ice. And add 1/2 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice.
    Gin Rickey
  • Slowly top off the glass with chilled club soda leaving about an inch from the top and stir gently with a cocktail spoon to mix.
    Gin Rickey


Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 18mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.03mg
Gin Rickey

FAQs & Tips

Gin Rickey

Gin Rickey Variations

Bubbly gin drinks are some of my favorite cocktails, especially when the weather is hot and the pool is cool. If you like drinks like the Gin Rickey, check out some of these other fun and fizzy recipes here at Twist and Toast:

  • Gin & Tonic – A classic “G&T” is one of my favorite drinks, and I tell you a little about it.
  • Gin Fizz – Frothy, fizzy and refreshing, the Gin Fizz became another fast-favorite of mine after exploring it.
  • Tom Collins – Classy and classic, the Tom Collins never goes out of style. Check it out to see why.
  • French 75 – Gin and champagne come together for a perfect tipple. Check out our recipe and have one today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating