The Gin Rickey is one of those classic cocktails. Simple, light, and refreshing. Perfect for anyone who loves a streamlined boozie drink without too much fluff. 

tall glass filled with ice, clear liquid, and lime wedges

History of the Gin Rickey cocktail

“Colonel Joe” Rickey is not only the namesake of this classic cocktail, but he’s also credited with creating it. Back in the late 1800s, Joe Rickey was well known in the political sphere, campaigning hard for President Cleveland in both 1884 and 1892. He was even appointed to the Military Organization Committee for Cleveland’s inauguration. 

Joe Rickey was a regular patron at a local Washington D.C. saloon, nicknamed Shoo’s (Shoomaker’s). It was here in the 1883 summer campaign season where Rickey requested his first iteration of the signature cocktail from bartender, George Williamson. Prepared to Rickey’s instructions, the first cocktail was actually made with Shoomaker’s own house-label whiskey.

Rickey remained true to his first iteration of the “Rickey” made with whiskey, but soon gin would become more popular amongst regular patrons of the bar. This cocktail creation, and the substitution of the featured liquor, set off a long-standing trend of “rickey cocktails.”  

tall glass filled with ice, clear liquid, and lime wedges

How to make a Gin Rickey cocktail 

Ooooeee, this is one easy cocktail to make! This is the type of cocktail recipe that’s less of a recipe and more of an ingredient list. Because, frankly, it’s not a recipe.

Anyway, what you’ll need for a gin rickey is some good gin, fresh limes, and club soda. Three ingredients is all you need! 

Additionally. You don’t need a cocktail shaker. Everything is poured over ice in a highball glass and garnished with a lime wedge or wheel. It’s that simple!

One trick—I like to keep my gin in the freezer so my cocktails are ice cold and don’t get watered down from melted ice. 

What’s the difference between a Gin Rickey, Gin Gimlet, Gin Fizz, and Tom Collins?

Gin Rickey: gin, lime juice, and club soda poured over ice into a highball glass. Garnished with lime wedges or wheels. 

Gin Gimlet: gin, lime juice, and simple syrup shaken then poured into a coupe glass and finished with a splash of club soda.

Gin Fizz: gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white shaken without ice, then shaken with ice and poured into a fizz glass. Topped off with a splash of club soda.

Tom Collins: London dry gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, poured over ice into a Collins glass. Topped off with club soda, a lemon wheel, and maraschino cherry. 

tall glass filled with ice, clear liquid, and lime wedges

Variations on the Gin Rickey cocktail: 

  • Strawberry Basil—muddle fresh strawberries and basil in a cocktail shaker, add the remaining ingredients, fill with ice, and shake to chill. Strain over ice into a highball glass.
  • Cucumber—muddle cucumber slices in a cocktail shaker, add the remaining ingredients, fill with ice, and shake to chill. Strain over ice into a highball glass.
  • Mint—either garnish the Gin Rickey with mint, or muddle fresh mint leaves in the bottom of the highball glass before adding the ice and remaining ingredients.
  • Lemon—use lemon juice instead of lime!
  • Grenadine—add a splash of homemade grenadine to the cocktail.
  • Triple Citrus—use a combination of lime juice, lemon juice, and orange juice

More cocktail recipes you may like…

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Don’t forget, if you make this Gin Rickey, leave a comment and rating below!

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Classic Gin Rickey

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: No-cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Light, refreshing, and easy to make, the Gin Rickey is a classic cocktail that keeps things simple! Unfussy and refreshing is the best way to describe this drink.


  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Lime wedge or lime wheel, for garnish


Fill a highball glass with ice. Add gin and lime juice. Top with soda water and stir.

Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel. Sip and enjoy!


Use club soda or sparkling water of choice. If you want it sweeter, use tonic water or add a splash of simple syrup.


  • Serving Size: 1 cocktail
  • Calories: 154
  • Sugar: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: gin rickey, rickey, gin cocktail

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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