The classic “Rickey” is a traditional highball drink. This primarily refers to the glass it is served in, which is a tall, slender glass. The earliest records of the rickey date back to the 1880s, where George A. Williamson, a bartender in Washington, D.C. first crafted the drink. The drink was named after prominent D.C. lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey. At the time, the first version of the drink used bourbon as the main spirit. However, it experienced far-reaching popularity with the introduction of gin to the drink. The cocktail is a gin staple, so if you’re interested in learning a new, refreshing gin cocktail, everything you need including the ingredients, how to make the drink, and some variations, are available below.
The gin rickey came out a decade after the original bourbon rickey, although the gin version is the most known. The only real difference between the two though is the spirit used. So to make the classic gin rickey over the traditional bourbon rickey, the only change you need to make is swapping gin in for bourbon.
Gin Rickey - The Perfect Classic Recipe
While the cocktail might have been originally named for a Washington lobbyist, it is served to be a refreshing beverage used to beat the heat and cut the humidity. The gin rickey is an excellent version of the classic cocktail that only requires a handful of ingredients.
The ingredients you need for a classic gin rickey are:
- 2 oz London Dry gin
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- Soda water
- Lime wedge/twist for garnish
To make a gin rickey you need to begin with a highball glass. The glass is designed to be easily held and consumed with a straw.
Fill the highball glass with ice, then add in the gin and the fresh lime juice. Now fill the remainder of the drink with soda water and stir. Garnish the glass with a lime wedge or slip a lime twist into the glass and serve.
Gin Rickey Nutrition Facts
Gin is a relatively low-calorie spirit. While the gin rickey does use soda water, the calorie count is much lower than other cocktail options. The lime juice does add some natural sugars though, which means you’re going to consume carbs.
The single serving highball gin rickey cocktail contains:
- 115 calories
- 0g Total Fat (.002g saturated fat)
- 0mg Cholesterol
- 31mg (1%) Sodium
- 23mg Potassium
- 1.29g Total Carbohydrates
- 0.06g Protein
- 8% Vitamin C
- 1% Calcium
Best Gin For a Gin Rickey
Gin is a truly personal spirit. Most gin drinkers have a strong opinion on what the best kind of gin is. There are those who like the stronger juniper flavor of the gin, while there are others who seek out something a bit milder. So the perfect gin for your own gin rickey may differ from others.
With that in mind, you will be mixing not only lime juice but carbonated soda water with the gin. When adding a good amount of secondary ingredients (in the case of the gin rickey, you have more soda and lime juice than gin) you don’t need to go for top-shelf gin. When gin is not only the main ingredient but the majority of the cocktail you’ll want to invest in the top tier gin. With this, you can save some money and still pick up a quality gin.
Old Tom is an excellent gin that works well for the gin rickey. Bombay Sapphire is a solid choice as well if you want the stronger juniper flavor to it. Beefeater is an excellent gin when it comes to not only a lighter juniper flavor but for a price point. You may also want to experiment with small-batch gins. Many localized distilleries make gin (as it does not take as long to make as spirits such as whiskey or rum), so taste test local gins. You may find a new favorite.
Gin Rickey Variations
The beauty of the gin rickey is it is a simple cocktail that opens itself up for all kinds of variations. But that is also one of the main benefits of gin in general. You can take the base cocktail and add flare. Many of the gin rickey variations you’ll find use the base cocktail design and then build off of it.
- Minty Gin Rickey
The Minty Gin Rickey is almost a mojito made with gin instead of silver rum. You will use the same gin, lime juice, and club soda mixture as you would with the traditional drink, but you’ll simply muddle up mint and lime inside the glass, which adds a small burst of mint to the drink. This makes it a great warm weather cocktail. To ensure the Minty Gin Rickey takes full advantage of the mint you’ll want to make sure and use flavorless soda water. If you’re in the habit of using lemon-lime soda water you should switch to a club soda.See More
- Raspberry Gin Rickey
The raspberry version of the gin rickey takes the traditional cocktail and infuses it with fresh raspberries. Similar to the Minty Gin Rickey you’ll want to add in some raspberries into the highball glass and muddle it up. This will give a nice tart and sweet taste to the cocktail. Now, there are some who might have you add additional sugar to the cocktail in order to cut down on the tartness. You may want to experiment with this depending on your tart to sweet enjoyment level. During the summer though it is a fantastic cocktail option.See More
- Cherry-Lime Gin Rickey
As you can tell, many of the variations of the gin rickey play on the refreshing, clean palette of the gin cocktail by infusing the drink with fruit. The Cherry-Lime Gin Rickey is no different. Instead of using raspberries though you use cherries. Fresh cherries work well for this when in season, or you can use frozen. In fact, frozen cherries can be a great option for this version as the frozen fruit works like ice (this can be done with the raspberry version as well). Basically, you can use any kind of fruit you’d like with the gin rickey. There are limitless experimentation options. You can also swap out the club soda for the lemon-lime soda here as lime is one of the fruit ingredients.See More
- Sloe Gin Rickey
The sloe gin rickey is similar in name to the traditional gin rickey, but in terms of flavor, it is substantially different. Sloe gin has a unique flavor to it. The spirit itself is basically the combination of gin and the cultivated sloe berry. It is popular in England, but the sloe berry is rarely used in other parts of the world. The berry itself has a highly astringent flavor to it and yet is a bit sweet within the sloe gin spirit. If you’ve never had sloe gin before it is worth trying, as there are a number of other cocktail opportunities for you if you do enjoy sloe gin. Because sloe gin does not have as high of alcohol content as traditional gin, this cocktail is also lighter, which is nice if you want a refreshing cocktail that doesn’t have as much alcoholic kick.See More
- Rhubarb Ginger Gin Rickey
This is a deliciously refreshing cocktail if you enjoy rhubarb. If you are a rhubarb fan it goes excellent with the gin and ginger. However, if you’re not much of a rhubarb fan than you’ll want to skip this variation. Should you decide to make the rhubarb ginger gin rickey it is recommended to use fresh ginger. The slices of fresh ginger take the drink to an entirely different level you’re not able to get with just ginger ale. If you’d like to boost the carbonation of the drink, look to find a ginger ale such as Vernors (which is a Midwestern United States staple, although you can find it in small amounts throughout most other areas of the country).See More
- Raspberry Rose Gin Rickey
This version of the gin rickey is similar to the previous raspberry option. However, the rose water infusion here brings a completely different tasting note to the cocktail. Rose is especially refreshing and is, frankly, an underutilized taste in most cocktails. You may even want to test out using rose water in the cocktail without the raspberries to ensure you have the full rose taste in the drink.See More