1331 was Shoomaker’s address, and the birthplace of DC’s official cocktail, the Rickey. Founded in the 1850s, Shoomaker's was later bought by a prominent lobbyist, Colonel Joe Rickey. "It was quite a place, and it was also a little bit of a dive, it turns out. While the drinks were expensive, the décor was shabby," says Brown. "There was once a steward or a porter who got fired because he wiped down one of the tables, and when it was reported why he was fired, it’s because they said to him, ‘Do you know whose elbows have been on that table?’ Because it was pretty much every famous person," he explains. "This place was kind of a who’s who of Washington visitors," Peck says. "Basically every president came to drink here, except for Rutherford B. Hayes, who was a teetotaler."
The bar is even better known for the Rickey’s creation story. "The Rickey was invented by George Williamson, who was the bartender and president of Shoomaker’s," Brown explains. "He invented it, purportedly by taking Colonel Joe Rickey’s regular drink, which was a bourbon soda, and squeezing a lime and dropping it in," Brown says. "Apparently, Rickey didn’t like it, and he especially didn’t like it when people started calling the drink after him," Peck adds. "And yet the name stuck, because it was invented at his bar."
In 2011, Brown and Peck spearheaded the effort to designate the Rickey as DC’s official cocktail. "Using Prohibition in Washington, DC as evidence for the Rickey, we approached Jack Evans on the City Council, and asked them if we could get an official proclamation declaring the Rickey to be DC’s official cocktail," Peck recalls. They expected it to be a long, circuitous process, but the strength of their case made things easy. "We had the proclamation three weeks later," Peck says.
"I think somebody just needed to bring it to their attention," Brown explains. "I don’t think it’s controversial. This is the drink that DC’s best known for." The Rickey, which is known in the bartending community as "air conditioning in a glass," is still a hit to this day, with countless riffs showing up on menus all throughout Rickey Month in July.