With DC's official Rickey month beginning today I thought I would begin my coverage by paying homage to the original Rickey and take a look back at a unique twist on the District's original cocktail. The Rickey originated in the 1880s, being first made at Shoomaker's bar on Pennsylvania Ave. after a request by Col. Joe Rickey, a lobbyist at the time who wanted a change from his daily bourbon.
A Rickey is about as simple as it gets to make. Derek Brown of The Passenger and Columbia Room is DC's resident scholar on the Rickey. He is the author of the Wikipedia entry on the cocktail, coining it as "an air conditioner in a glass," perfect for the hot and humid dog-day DC summers.
I was recently at the Passenger and had their standard bourbon Rickey. Served in a red wine glass, it consisted of Virginia Gentleman, a bourbon made in Virginia (yes, bourbons made outside of Kentucky can be called bourbons), giving the Rickey a more local touch. A half lime was squeezed and dropped into the glass and topped off with soda water. As opposed to gin Rickeys, a more popular version, the sweet and spicy caramel/oak flavor of the bourbon adds a more interesting depth to the Rickey. The soda water and lime gives it a very light texture, acting as a mild palate cleanser allowing for a clean AC-like finish. I enjoy a gin Rickey with the lime accentuating the spirit's botanical structure, but for that authentic feel and and more stimulating flavor, the bourbon Rickey is the way to go. (Pictured: The bourbon Rickey at The Passenger)
In honor of the 2010 Rickey month, Bourbon Steak created their own twist on the Rickey with their "Celerickey" made with Hendrick's gin, fresh lime juice, house-made ginger syrup, and celery juice.
The Celerickey had a distinct vegetal undercurrent with the cucumber notes of the Hendrick's combined with the grassy and sweet celery juice, giving it an almost Bloody Mary-esque quality. The lime juice provided some bright acidity with the ginger syrup adding a not-to-sweet touch. It was light, airy and refreshing. I really liked the dramatic celery garnish. I think I know what I'll drink the next time I order from their brunch menu. (Pictured: The "Celerickey" at Boubon Steak)