Wrapping Up the Rickey

Alex Bookless wins the Rickey Contest. Photo: Scott Wolfson.

The Third Annual Rickey Month Celebration was Monday night, and I’m only now getting around to recap it after being honored to participate in the final judging. That should give you a better idea of what kind of wild fun party it was than anything I could possibly write, but…

The five final contestants presented a quintet of Rickey riffs highlighting the enormous talent we have on hand here in DC mixology. None were derivative, all were inventive, and it was a very tough call. That’s the sign of an excellent field of contestants – congratulations to the DC Craft Bartenders Guild!

But there has to be a winner, and it was Alex Bookless (The Passenger) with her The Root of All Rickey, a complex mix of both event sponsors Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Hendrick’s Gin. That’s a clever nod to cocktail history, as the Rickey began with bourbon as its base spirit before switching in popularity to gin. Along with the spirits are half a lime and her amazing homemade root soda using jicama as the base ingredient. Why jicama? Alex explained it grew near her childhood home. Sweet. She finished off her Rickey with a beautifully aromatic garnish of mint and jicama. It really hit all the marks, from beautiful presentation in a goblet to aroma, color and taste.

Runner-up was Dan Searing (Room 11)’s addictive Balmy Rickey. I blame my delayed recap on sucking down several of these beauties, composed of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, half a lime quartered and muddled with lemon balm leaves, a very small amount of simple syrup, and soda water. Simple, drinkable, delicious.

Not to overlook the other three who made it to the final round, it was fascinating to taste and compare Adam Bernbach’s Salty Limey Ginny Thing (Proof/Estadio), David Fritzler’s Smokin’ Joe Rickey (Tryst), and Gina Chersevani’s Rickey Ricardo (PS7). The display of technique and variance of style made for thought-provoking discussions with fellow judges Tad Carducci of the Tippling Brothers, Ana Marie Cox of GQ Magazine, Jim Hewes of the Round Robin Bar at the Willard Hotel, and Charlotte Voisey of Hendrick’s Gin.

I don’t see why Rickey Month has to end. Keep drinking!

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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