Rickey Cocktail – Classic Recipe & History

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make a classic Rickey.


  • 1/2 oz 15 ml Lime Juice

  • 2 oz 60 ml Bourbon

  • 5 oz 150 ml Soda Water


  • Technique: Build In Glass
  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water in a glass.
  • Fill the glass with ice.
  • Stir to combine and chill the ingredients.
  • Gently add the soda water and give the drink a couple of last stirs to mix it fully.


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The History Of The Rickey.

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. This recipe is a brandy variation of the original whiskey-based rickey. 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; are all based on rickey structures.

What Does The Rickey Taste Like?

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.

Properly Adding Soda Water.

The essential ingredient in a rickey, I feel, is 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 to stay as bubbly as possible, you will have an outstanding cocktail. Still, 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 two 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. 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 of 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.

Recipe Resources

Tools Used:

Download the free Vintage American Cocktail app.

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