We may not have state status (yet) but at least we have the makings of a fun one. Why? Well, not only do we have all the regular symbols of a state, like an official bird (the wood thrush), flower (the “American Beauty“ rose) and tree (the scarlet oak), but as of July 14, we now have an official cocktail – the rickey. And we couldn’t be more thrilled because, truly, the rickey is a libation worth exaltation and, increasingly, experimentation.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the original Rickeybourbon, lime, ice and seltzerwas first dreamt up in 1883 at an old dive named Shoomaker’s, located at 1331-33 E Street NW. Yet while the space doesn’t exist anymore (the address is now known as 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue and is occupied by the JW Marriott) the original recipe, named after Shoomaker’s then-owner, former Confederate soldier Colonel John Rickey, lives on in many DC establishments. Most economically awesome right now, it's at the JW Marriott’s 1331 Bar and Lounge, which is offering half-price rickeys for the rest of the month in honor of DC’s new official cocktail and Rickey Month. That's official now, too!
But what’s more thrilling (and often more tasty) is that the rickey is primed for variation. One of the most popular is the gin rickey, which does everything the same as the original, but swaps gin for the bourbon, although we guess by the name that’s probably pretty obvious. But some bartenders are going steps further and making some of our most favorite elixers of the season by altering the original rickey even more. We're particularly fond of the alt-rickey at The Passenger. Created by co-owner and mixologist extraordinaire Tom Brown and called the Rickey Bobby as a homage to the character played by Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights, it’s at least as awesome as that movie’s infamous dinner table scene. And like both Walker and Texas Ranger, the Rickey Bobby definitely has an attitude in the form of a spicy bite that it gets thanks to the inclusion of a healthy dose of fresh ginger beer, along with the gin, lime and bitters.
Some of the strangest alt-rickeys, though, will no doubt appear next month when the DC Craft Bartenders Guild holds its annual rickey competition. (Word is it'll take place this year after official Rickey Month ends because Taste of the Cocktail in New Orleans, to where many of the Guild's members flee for inspiration, is going on this month). In years past there have been watermelon rickeys, vanilla rickeys, citrus rickeys, and the list goes on. Hoping to top those this year is mixmaster James Lindahl of PS7. “I’m thinking of doing maybe a mezcal rickey,” he tells us. And we can’t wait to try it.