Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | July 9, 2010

Rickey Month

I would have noted it sooner, were I not on vacation, but we are now into July and the third annual DC Craft Bartenders Guild Rickey Month.

The 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 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.

Derek Brown often describes the Rickey as “air conditioning in a glass.” Living in DC for a number of years now, I can attest with great conviction the validity of Dereks’ description. There really are few things more refreshing on a hot, humid, swampy DC summer day than a Gin Rickey or my vermouth blanc variation. Plus the recipe model allows for any base spirit – so if gin or bourbon isn’t your thing, try it with something else!

Marshall at Scofflaw’s Den has a rundown of all the participating bartenders, a list that seems to grow dramatically every year:

Owen Thompson of Café Atlantico
Gina Chersevani of PS7′s
Chantal Tseng of Tabard Inn
Adam Bernbach of Proof
Dan Searing of Room 11
Clinton Terry of PX
Jayson Smith of PX
Justin Owens of PX
Rico Wisner of Poste Brasserie
David Fritzler of Tryst
Joey Ambrose of W Hotel
J.P. Caceres of Againn
Duane Sylvestre of Bourbon Steak
Laura Secker of Vermillion
Elli Benchimol of Chef Geoff’s (both locations)
Amy Troutmiller of Urbana
Joseph David Cleveland of Oyamel
Mike Cherner of Mie N Yu
Milton Hernandez of Bibiana
Rachel Sergi of 701
Jessica Crandall of Bourbon (Glover Park)
Theo Rutherford of Ripple Wine Bar
Alex Bookless of the Passenger
Julia Hurst of the Passenger
Alex Nichols of the Passenger
J.P. Fetherston of the Passenger and Columbia Room
Patrick Owens of Jaleo

Last year I didn’t get to do a good job of sampling the Rickeys being offered around town. I aim to do much better this year.

If you’re in DC, any of these bars should be able to serve the cocktail regardless of whether or not the bartender who has created it is behind the stick. Marshall has more details about how to sample Rickeys around town this month and where the final hootenanny will be:

On August 2nd beginning at 6:30pm at The Passenger in Mt. Vernon Square (1021 7th Street, NW) there will be a Rickey party sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin and Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

What? That’s not good enough? Geez, you youngins and your whatnots . . .

Okay then, go to one of the participating establishments to sample a Rickey and get you a Rickey passport. If you visit ten contestants during the month of July, and get your Rickey Passport stamped, entrance to the finals of the contest is free. Otherwise, the event will be $10 at the door and include one free classic Rickey.

Finalists will be serving their drinks to attendees at a cash bar and competing for the grand prize of $1,000 chosen by special guest judges Ana Maria Cox of GQ, Jim Hewes of the Round Robin Bar at the Willard, Tad Carducci of Tippling Bros., Peter Smith of PS7’s and Jenn Larsen of

There go folks…now go off and get cool in the DC heat!


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