One afternoon in the late 1890s while in the capital city, Missouri lobbyist Joe Rickey walked into Shoomaker’s, a local D.C. watering hole. Normally, he’d order his usual bourbon and soda, but having grown bored of the drink, he asked bartender George Williamson to whip up something different. With a quick switch of bourbon to gin, the Gin Rickey was born.

In Washington, D.C., the Gin Rickey is not so much a preferred drink but part of the city’s cultural fabric. It’s there, as history and booze historians tell us, that gin cemented its status as the signature spirit of lime-scented highballs. It wasn’t long before the libation won over the hearts and palates of the social and political elite, which allegedly included prolific author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Here to tell us how it did so, and why the Gin Rickey is so revered, is Andra “AJ” Johnson.

Get ready for a discussion on why the Gin Rickey is ready-made to beat the D.C. summer heat, why the Gin & Tonic is the cilantro of the bar world, and how carbonated cocktails play games with our pyloric valves and BACs. There’s a lot to dive into on this episode of the “Cocktail College” podcast, and luckily, AJ came well equipped to break it all down for us. Tune in for more.

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Andra “AJ” Johnson’s Gin Rickey Recipe


  • 2 ounces London Dry-style gin
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 5 ounces club soda
  • Garnish: fresh lime wedge


  1. Add gin and lime to a chilled highball glass and stir slightly.
  2. Top with club soda poured down a spiral bar spoon.
  3. Carefully add ice.
  4. Garnish with lime wedge.