There are few places nicer to get day drunk at than on Jack Rose’s rooftop patio, and when getting day drunk involves drinking as much gin as humanly possible, then it’s all the more glorious. Yet, their annual Rickey competition is a strange beast. Yes, it’s stuffed to the gills with amazing bartenders and yes, everyone comes out in their DC best, but there’s something strange about a Rickey competition where everyone’s M.O. seems to be to make the weirdest, least Rickey like Rickey possible.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m very devoted to gin. It’s my favorite liquor bar none and I’m happy to drink it in any form someone wants to serve it to me. I’m also not opposed to getting weird with your cocktails. I like drinking weird stuff as much as the next guy. I guess we just have to admit that the Original Flavor Classic Rickey is a little on the boring side. Not that there is anything wrong with that either! My favorite drink is a gin and tonic. Boring is fine. Most classic cocktails are boring. It’s comes with the territory. I’ve had enough Rickey’s, G&T’s, and Old Fashioned’s in my life that I’m not necessarily over the moon excited to drink one, but damn do I love them. They’re reliable.
So, I get why the competing bartenders were getting weird. Not only are they trying to impress an audience that is getting more and more drunk as the day goes on, they’re also trying to convince the judges, one of whom is Lukas B. Smith, last years winner, that their Rickey is worthy of acclaim. So, the drinks definitely got weird.
It’s here I have to apologize. I did not drink every Rickey. I’d like to say it’s because I am a small girl and I was trying to pace myself and not act a fool while representing my place of business, but it had absolutely nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with me being an idiot. For some reason, I got it in my mind that the Rickey competition was only taking place on the roof. I don’t know what I thought that, or where it came from, but it worked out quite well for me, because the rooftop was all gin all the time. Despite the fact that the Rickey was originally made with bourbon, I have zero interest in drinking bourbon Rickey’s. Gin for life my friends. Gin for life.
And damn did people get creative. I started off with Jo Jo Valenzuela’s (of Brine) “Rizal”, which was a mixture of Edinburgh gin, lime, and guavamansi soda. It was then topped with some cool as hell dry ice concoction. This was easily the most delicious drink I had all day. It started out sweet with the guava but the gin and lime kept it grounded with a nice dry citrus-y finish. I could seriously drink these all day and I basically did. Plus, the dry ice was so awesome! Science really is amazing, you guys.
Next up was my second favorite of the bunch (taste wise, it easily had the best name), “It Puts the Lime In the Coconut – Or Else It Gets The Hose Again” but Jason R. Swaringen of Gypsy Soul. This Rickey variation contained toasted coriander Edinburgh gin, coconut water, clarified lime, and then to top it all off, coconut stuffed in the skin of a candied lime. This drink was crazy. The gin and lime drink were very dry and almost sour, whereas the candied lime / coconut garnish was incredibly sweet. It was almost like biting into an Almond Joy. My personal favorite way to drink it was to let the candied lime kind of dissolve into the gin, which helped balance the flavors a little bit. I also got to sample the “Rickey Went To H Mart”, from Breadsoda‘s Sarah Rosner, which was a classic Rickey topped with Ling Hing mui powder.
While two bourbon Rickey’s managed to sweep second and third place, Jo Jo’s “Rizal” Rickey took first and it was totally deserved. Out of all the weird, Frankenstein Rickey’s I had tasted that day, Jo Jo’s was by far the best. It may not have been very close to a traditional Rickey, but it was an excellent day drinking cocktail and that’s really all I wanted.