The Gin Rickey is one of those classic gin cocktails. It’s simple, light, and refreshing with only three ingredients, gin, lime and soda water. Perfect for anyone who loves a light, boozy highball cocktail or a gin-based drink without too much fluff.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
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 version of the drink 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.”
Types of Gin to Use
There are several different types of gin. They vary in the flavor, some have strong citrus flavors while others have bolder notes of juniper.
The best part of this ricky cocktail is that you can use your favorite gin here and usually the less expensive type will work just fine.
Thanks to the light combination of lime and soda water, you can definitely taste the gin flavors which are enhanced by the lime juice. London Dry and Bombay have stronger notes of juniper, while London Dry is known for a good citrus flavor.
Try them out and pick your favorite!
How to Make a Gin Rickey
This is one easy cocktail to make, it’s just 3 ingredients! This is the type of cocktail recipe that’s less of a recipe and more of an ingredient list. What you’ll need for rickey cocktail is some good gin, fresh limes, and club soda.
- I like to keep my gin in the freezer so my cocktails are ice cold and don’t get watered down from melted ice.
- Since the ingredient list is short and simple, be sure to use fresh lime juice—you can taste the difference!
- For a bit of sweetness, add a splash of simple syrup or use tonic water instead of club soda.
What’s the Difference Between the Classic Gin Cocktails?
There are several refreshing gin cocktails, and it’s no wonder since they’re all delicious! Here’s a list to keep them all straight.
- 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.
- 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 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 Refreshing Cocktail Recipes
It is less calories and has less sugar since it uses soda water rather than tonic water.
The drink is named after Colonel Joe Rickey and was created in Washington D.C. in the late 1800s. Rickey wanted a no sugar drink, so the Rickey cocktail was originally created with whiskey and later made with other spirits like gin.
The Gin Rickey regained popularity with the movie The Great Gatsby, based off of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book. The main character, Jay Gatsby’s favorite drink is this cocktail.
A Gin Rickey is prepared in a highball glass while a Tom Collins is shaken, strained and topped with soda water in a Collins glass.
Classic Gin Rickey Cocktail
- 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!