Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | July 14, 2011

DC Officially Recognizes the Rickey

Last summer I was part of selection committee for the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s annual Rickey Contest. I spent a whole lot of time trekking around DC and Northern Virginia with Derek Brown of The Columbia Room (and others) drinking modern Rickey variations. One thing I remember most from this experience was talking with Derek about the historic place of the Rickey as the quintessential DC cocktail. The Rickey was created by Colonel Joe Rickey and bartender George Williamson at Shoomaker’s Bar in 1883. Originally made with whiskey, it quickly became popular with gin as its base. As Derek is fond of saying, a Gin Rickey is perfect for DC’s swampy summer weather as it is effectively like “air conditioning in a glass.” Derek had the idea that the city of DC should commemorate and honor the Rickey as Washington’s native cocktail and get a plaque put on the J.W. Marriot hotel, which sits on the site of Shoomaker’s, to honor the history of the cocktail’s creation there.

Today DC Council Member Jack Evans officially honored the Rickey:

Local liquor aficionados will join D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans on Thursday in reading an official proclamation declaring the Rickey as Washington’s native cocktail, according to the AP. July will be officially known as “Rickey month” in the District.

Additionally, this weekend a plaque commemorating the birthplace of the Rickey will be put up at the J.W. Marriott.

This is a great day for DC and the evolution of the nation’s capitol as a place that knows and honors the history of craft cocktails and the importance of cocktails in our national culture. Congrats to Derek and every other member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild who helped make this happen by promoting, reinventing, and remembering the Rickey as DC’s native cocktail and one of the finest instances of creativity in the history of American cocktail culture.


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