DC's signature cocktail, the Rickey, dates back to 1883, when Colonel Joe Rickey threw back quite a few limey libations in Shoomaker’s at 1331 E St (now relegated to a Marriott). The lobbyist didn’t like his lush claim to fame, but DC likes it well enough to slam the summery gin-based beverage year-round, probably to trick its collective brain into believing it's warmer outside. Here are six great ways to get your Rickey on around town:
Bourbon Steak, Rickey
BS schools us on the original Rickey recipe. Four Roses bourbon, half a lime, and Fever-Tree soda. You heard right: bourbon. It wasn’t until later that someone went weaksauce and allowed gin to take over. Jamie MacBain will also make it for you with Green Hat Gin -- Snoop approves -- so you can decide if you’re old school or new school.
Teddy & The Bully Bar, Sheeny’s Rickey
Teddy says why pick just one? Their best-of-both-worlds Rickey has both Green Hat Gin AND a Woodford Reserve reduction that imparts just the right amount of sweetness. This quencher also has the requisite seltzer and not-so-requisite Key lime pie foam. Sometimes this bad boy is even available on tap. Rickey-stand, anyone?!
Daikaya Izakaya, Rickey-san
Yes, this Rickey earns the Japanese sign of respect. Hendricks Gin, matcha green tea soda, yuzu, and lime combine for a perfect sipper that’s not too sweet. Lukas Smith’s siphon is where the magic happens -- the matcha soda is a subtle, caffeinated kick in the (snow) pants. Savor every sip knowing yuzu is illegal to import in whole fruit form.
TNT, Born of a Bottle, From Heavens Hand
Todd Thrasher’s created one hell of a concoction for your consumption: Cardinal Gin, lime, lemongrass, white pepper, cumin, and yuzu bitters. Get one at Arlington’s bona fide rocker bar, TNT, tucked in the back of Eamonn's a Dublin Chipper. Lime’s Asian cousin makes another appearance in this complex, spicy Rickey, whose flavor is... waitforit... explosive! Also worth a go: the Rickey-esque Thymes Like These.
The Passenger, Johnny Utah
Mount Vernon Square
Vaya con dios, brah, because the Passenger’s Johnny Utah is crafted with Green Hat Gin, Cocchi Americano, Velvet Falernum, lemon, and soda. To say Green Hat Gin is a local favorite would be the understatement of the year, and it’s only January. Julia Hurst’s Rickey leaves one with a single lingering question: "You gonna jump or jerk off?"
Café Soleil, Green Rickey
This flavor-blasted bad boy gets its green hue from a half ounce of the green stuff -- the kind that's already legal here in DC. In addition to absinthe, the Green Rickey contains lime, Tanqueray Gin, St. Germain Liquor, and Pellegrino. Not a fan of the anise imparted by the green fairy? They carry an original Rickey too.
Located at the Farragut West Metro Station, Cafe Soleil is a great spot to hit for food and drinks on your way to the train. Cheap beer, wine, and half-price apps are the order for happy hour, or stick around for dinner and enjoy their marinated Australian Lamb Shank or Pistachio Encrusted Salmon.
Teddy & The Bully Bar is the second prez-themed bar from the Lincoln folks, w/ this Roughrider going all “robust masculinity”: animal heads, rifle lights, and a menu showcasing wild game.
Authenticity is the name of the game at this warm and vibrant (think yellow and blue stripes on the wall) Chinatown ramen shop: they import their noodles from Japan, use a special recipe they concocted themselves, and make their flavorful chintan stock over 16 hours. Among their five varieties of Sapporo-style ramen is a vegan choice topped with veggies like brussel sprouts, snow peas, carrots, and braised shiitake mushrooms that -- even against the classic pork-based bowls -- reigns supreme.
The gentleman cocktailer behind much-lauded PX Lounge has rocked out his newest -- which's connected to Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper -- with a bar of marble and wrought iron, posters of bands from Dead Kennedys to KISS, copious graffiti, and a skeleton of a cod, a nod to drinks so strong you'll perform like a dead fish later that night.
When the original Passenger closed at the end of 2014, it felt like losing a loved one. Thankfully, the endearing, unpretentious cocktail joint returned at a new location not too far up 7th Street, where it still encourages patrons to chat with bartenders about what flavors, spirits, or ingredients they’re in the mood to drink, and let the experts take it from there. But don't worry, there’s a chalkboard menu with four or five rotating cocktail options if you’re feeling anti-social. The space also retains its worn-in vibe with carryovers from the old Passenger (church pew booths, a Steve McQueen mural) and vestiges from other DC hotspots (Liv’s old disco ball, leopard-print chairs from the defunct Millie and Al's). It’s still the bar that sells tallboys of Schlitz and makes world-class cocktails -- only now it has Chartreuse on tap and a concert stage upstairs, too.