Classic Rickey Cocktail – Archetype of Many Modern Cocktails


Invented in the Late 19th century, by D.C. lobbyist Joe Rickey (At least that’s who is credited with having invented it), the rickey is a refreshing and slightly tart cocktail. More than just a recipe the rickey became an archetype for many popular cocktails, even if you don’t realize they are structurally a rickey. The rickey cocktail structure is simple: 1/2 ounce (15 mls) citrus, 2 oz (60 mls) base spirit, and 5 oz (150 mls) carbonated beverage. For example the rum and coke with a lime is a rickey, Dark ‘N’ Stormy, gin and tonic; these are all based on rickey structures.


The Rickey has a refreshing and slightly tart taste with the taste of mellow and warm bourbon coming through. Perfectly balanced and light, the rickey is an outstanding cocktail.


The most important ingredient in a rickey, I feel, is actually the soda water and how the cocktail is prepared. Of course the spirit and citrus are the flavors you taste but the soda water is what provides all the texture. If you prepare it so it stays as bubbly as possible, you will end up with an outstanding cocktail but if you don’t cool the ingredients or glass properly and stir it too violently you will end up with a flat lame cocktail, similar to drinking a flat soda. Sure the flavor will be there but it will be flat. So here is what you do. The 2 things you have control over are 1). the temperature and 2). how violently you add the soda water. First add the spirit and citrus to a glass filled with ice. Stir them together so that they get cold and the inside of the glass chills too. Even better you could chill the glass in the freezer first but that requires forethought. Stirring with ice works well enough on the spot. Next when you add the soda water do it gently and only give the drink a couple turns to mix the soda water with the spirit and citrus. Adding and stirring the soda water like this helps maintain as much carbonation as possible and the bubblier it is, the more refreshing it will be.

Rickey Cocktail

Rickey Cocktail recipe

  • 15 mls (1/2 oz) Lemon Juice
  • 60 mls (2 oz) Bourbon
  • 150 mls (5 oz) Soda Water

Fill your serving glass with ice. Combine all ingredients except for the soda water in the glass. Stir and combine the ingredients and at the same time chilling the glass. Top off with more ice if you need to. Lastly gently add the soda water to maintain its carbonation and give a couple gentle stirs to mix.

ABV = 10%

Originated from Washington DC, USA

Download Vintage American Cocktail on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Discover hundreds of the best classic cocktail recipes all from an easy to use app.