The Gin Rickey is one of the easiest cocktail recipes there is! Gin, soda water, and lime make the best bubbly, refreshing highball drink.

Gin rickey

It’s tall, it’s bubbly, and it’s one of the easiest to make cocktails out there. Try the Gin Rickey! This classic cocktail was born in the 1880s and has been popular ever since. And for good reason: it’s tangy, bubbly, and irresistibly delicious. If you love a Vodka Soda or a Gin and Tonic: this is the drink for you! There’s no frills: just a classy classic highball. Alex and I love sipping on these afternoons on the patio — along with the rickey’s many variations. Here’s how to make it!

What’s a gin rickey?

The Gin Rickey is a highball cocktail made with gin, soda water and lime juice. It was invented in the 1880’s with bourbon, then became very popular with gin in the 1890’s. The story goes that a Democratic politician named Colonel Joe Rickey made up the drink in a Washington DC bar with the help of the bartender there (here’s more on that).

The drink rose to worldwide popularity, and is even mentioned in books like the 1920’s novel Great Gatsby. Though it’s a simple drink, the rickey connects to a centuries long tradition of mixing booze and carbonated water. There are loads of related drinks, like the whiskey highball and even wine spritzers (see below).

How to make a gin rickey

How to make this gin rickey recipe? It’s very simple, like most highball cocktails. Highball cocktails are drinks that have a larger ratio of non-alcoholic mixer to liquor. Most of the time, highballs are mixed in the glass: so no need to dirty a cocktail shaker! Grab these ingredients and pour them into a glass:

Gin rickey

The type of gin to use

The gin rickey is a laid-back cocktail where you can use any quality of gin. Of course, the better the gin, the better the drink! But unlike a gin and tonic, with the gin rickey you can get away with a more inexpensive gin. So pretty much anything is game.

Even so, we like using mid-priced gin here, because why not? One of our favorites is a classic gin like Malfy gin — we prefer it to the strong floral flavor of something like Tanquery. We also like a gin available local to us in Indianapolis: 8th Day Distillery and Hotel Tango.

Gin rickey

The concept of watering down alcohol goes back hundreds of years! A Wine Spritzer is wine diluted with soda water, which started back in the 1800’s as a way to make bubbly wine. So the gin rickey is just one in a long line of bubbly highball cocktails. Here are a few popular variations on the gin rickey:

Some people say the Mojito is a variation on the rickey…but we think it’s closer to a classic daiquiri than the gin rickey. Professional bartenders: please weigh in!

Gin rickey

When to serve a gin rickey

The gin rickey is bubbly and refreshing. It works well for summer, but you can drink it anytime (and we do!). It’s great for serving as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Afternoon drink
  • Before dinner drink (aperitif)
  • Cocktail hour drink
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The Gin Rickey


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The Gin Rickey is one of the easiest cocktail recipes there is! Gin, soda water, and lime make the best bubbly, refreshing highball drink. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 ounces* gin
  • 1 ½ ounces fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces soda water
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: lime wedge

Instructions

  1. Add the gin and lime juice to highball glass and stir.
  2. Fill with ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Notes

*To convert to tablespoons, use the ratio: 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Gin rickey

There are hundreds of drinks with gin, since this spirit has been popular for hundreds of years. Here are some of our favorite gin drinks:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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3 Comments

  1. Greetings,

    In your gin recipes, you reference a preference for Malfy gin. I have not tried that gin just yet, so I did some research.

    I see there are four (4) different gins in the Malfy family. Which one do you prefer in your cocktails?

    Thank you,

    Nick