Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | July 17, 2009

The Rickey Contest

The DC Craft Bartenders Guild is hosting a contest where top DC bartenders are creating original Rickey recipes. The Rickey is Washington DC’s most famous native cocktail.

Invented in 1883 at Shoomaker’s by George Williamson at the bequest at Colonel Joe Rickey. The drink consists of any base spirit with lime juice and sparkling mineral water or soda. The original was with Bourbon served in a goblet with ice and the lime shell was dropped in the glass. It was not served with sugar.

My preferred Rickey is either one of the classics – gin or bourbon – or a variation of my own:

Blanc Rickey

2 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 Lime shell
Club Soda

Add vermouth, bitters, lime juice, & lime shell to a Collins glass. Fill with ice and top with club soda.

This is about as light and refreshing as it gets, perfect for hot and humid DC weather. That’s the whole beauty of the Rickey – it’s engineered for the District’s swampy weather, though it’s certainly ready to export to most other places in the summertime.

Looking through the creations of bartenders for this contest, you see a lot of very refreshing drinks in the mix. I was initially inclined to only vote for a recipe that included club soda and lime; many of them include sodas or other mixers and different fruit and citrus flavors. But in the end, I made the hard choice and voted for what sounded to me to be the most interesting, refreshing, and delicious cocktail proposed: Owen Thompson’s Watermelon Rickey. According to Metromix, it includes:

Hendrick’s Gin, watermelon puree, mint leaves, juice of half a lime, agave syrup, and prosecco.

Described as “summer in a glass.”

Other participating bartenders include Clinton Terry of PX, Chantal Tseng of Tabard Inn, Tiffany Short of The Gibson, and Gina Chersevani of PS7s. You can vote for your favorite at Metromix.



  1. […] Rickey Contest Winner The DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s annual Rickey Contest concluded on Monday. I was able to make it to Bourbon for the party, which was incredibly well […]

  2. […] Rickey is probably the most famous cocktail native to Washington DC.  Here’s the story: Invented in 1883 at Shoomaker’s by George Williamson at the bequest at Colonel Joe Rickey. The […]

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