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By Pink Lady
Late spring is an unpredictable time in New England — we could have sun and blossoms or rain and hail — but regardless of what Mother Nature brings our way this month, it’s time to reach for cocktails that are light and refreshing. If you build it, summer will come, and summer is Rickey season!

I was introduced to the Rickey when I first moved to New Hampshire at the tender age of 10, a soda fountain version of the drink made with raspberry syrup, fresh lime juice, and club soda. This old time-y refresher fit right in with the other New England delicacies I discovered that year, like frappes and fluff (which is candy you eat for lunch, how is this allowed?) I found my Raspberry Lime Rickey to be a perfect way to beat the heat, perhaps because it was my introduction to drinks made with fresh citrus. This was the ‘90s, after all, the era of Country Time Lemonade and Crystal Light.

Imagine my surprise to learn 15 years later, as my Boston bartender friends and I were becoming obsessed with vintage cocktails, that the Rickey was a boozy tipple born in a bar in the 1800s, contains no sugar, and is named after a real person, Colonel Joseph Kerr “Joe” Rickey. Rickey (the man) was a political lobbyist who popularized the drink at Shoomaker’s bar, a place described by David Wondrich in Imbibe! as “a quiet, skew-angled old place on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, famed for the quality of its whiskey and the political wattage of its clientele (some called it the ‘third Room of the Congress.’)”

Joe’s drink skipped sugar because he believed it to ‘heat the blood’ and opted for lime for its ‘cooling effect’, claims which are as untrue today as they were then. His recipe was whiskey, juice of half a lime with the shell dropped right in the glass, and soda water, but before long the Joe Rickey morphed into a Gin Rickey, made the same way with a gin base. It caught on in DC, New York, and beyond and was all the rage for about a decade. In 2011, the Rickey was decreed the official cocktail of Washington, DC by proclamation of the city council.

We’ll share Joe’s recipe, which also contains some advice, as handwritten for a reporter for a Syracuse newspaper in 1895.

Large glass — Ice
Whiskey or gin —
Lime Juice
Carbonated Water
Don’t Drink Too Many