Gin Rickey

- Jenny

My new stove and I are in the first throes of dating and you know how that goes. It’s all lust and excitement, and I am introducing him to my friends –- like Butter Chicken and Puglia Lady Rethought for America and Salmon Pasta. When things calm down and we get to know each other better, I'll be able to move on to new recipes, and this blog will return to its regularly scheduled program of weeknight cooking tips.

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In the meantime, in lieu of adventurous cooking, I am having a cocktail. In particular: Gin Rickey (is it a sin to drink gin before noon?). This drink provides the perfect end to the summer, like a refreshing bit of surf on your legs, or better yet, the announcement from your summer share mates that they are packing up early and have left you a pile of clean towels and the back porch from which to watch the sunset all to yourself.

As is often the case, Jenny has made some adjustments to cover for her own failings. The first is the actual alcohol used; obviously this recipe calls for gin, and as I do not have much of a hard liquor supply, I had full intentions of procuring some over the weekend.

Sunday rolled around, and I mulled going to Trader Joe’s to pick up some gin, until I learned that A) in D.C. grocery stores cannot sell hard stuff (though wine and beer is fine) and that B) it is one of the states (“states”) that forbids liquor stores to open on Sunday.

Um, comment say wa? (They also do not allow farmers to sell fresh meat at the markets, though apparently raw fish makes the cut. In the official parlance of jurisprudence, these types of laws or ordinances are known as hooey, or that which makes no freaking sense to anyone but he/she who wrote it.)

But did I run toward the Jet Blue terminal and look for the next flight back home to Los Angeles? I did not. I used vodka. And it tasted great.

Further, Giulia Melucci, one of my favorite weeknight recipe scribes, called for agave nectar, proclaiming it a “godsend to cocktail-making because it's less bother than simple syrup and it gives you the sense that you are doing something healthy; what with its low glycemic index.”

Well, nothing is a god send to me if I can’t find it in visits to three stores, and anyone who drinks cocktails midday while their 7-year-old rocks out to Kei$ha clearly has other things to worry about concerning her lifestyle and general comportment than the glycemic index. So simple syrup it was for me –- honestly it only takes a minute to make.

Our mixologist says you can use mint or basil –- my mint was looking a little tired and MrsWheelbarrow just brought me my own basil plant and so before I kill it with ineptitude I thought I should pluck a few leaves, rub them between my fingers and drop them into the drink. Sublime. Any time of day.

Gin Rickey (is it a sin to drink gin before noon?)

By Giulia Melucci

Serves 2

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 4 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 4 ounces seltzer
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 sprigs mint or basil
  • 2 pieces lime

Pour all liquid ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into two glasses filled with ice. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint or basil and a slice of lime.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook

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thirschfeld September 1, 2010
Recipe redux. Yes still as good as the one made two nights ago which might have converted the wife to liking gin.
Jestei September 1, 2010
we are in the same place with this drink. maybe make hers with vodka?
drbabs August 31, 2010
OK, made this tonight, and I have a new favorite cocktail. Thanks, Jenny!
Jestei September 1, 2010
cheers see you tonight virtually at cocktail hr!
wanderash August 31, 2010
How timely! I have just vowed to only drink delicious cocktails- so, out with my husband's Any-Flat-Soda -and-Too-Much-Liqueur and in with the Gin Rickey!
Jestei August 31, 2010
i am with you wanderash. i have actually found that sipping one of these guys while i make dinner makes me far less sleepy/sluggish than a glass of wine. i am hooked, in a good way!
Victoria C. August 31, 2010
This sounds like a GREAT Labor Day weekend cocktail. I will be using simple syrup (I always have a bottle in the refrigerator) and Plymouth Gin straight from the freezer.
Jestei August 31, 2010
thanks for this tip. i was wondering what to do with my syrup -- should i fridge, leave out....
jmnookin August 30, 2010
it does sound sublime. but drinking in LA just isn't the same without you!
Jestei August 31, 2010
Ah well. Yes.
drbabs August 30, 2010
Food52 virtual cocktail hour! I love it!
MrsWheelbarrow August 30, 2010
I'm so glad you're putting the basil to such good use! I realize I have all the ingredients (except that pesky agave nectar), so will be having a Gin Rickey myself as soon as the clock strikes six o'clock.
thirschfeld August 30, 2010
so I guess what you are getting at MrsW. is this might be a food52 virtual cocktail hour because I am getting ready to give one of these a try, too.
mrslarkin August 30, 2010
Had I not drunk a whole pot of espresso this morning, I'd be partaking with y'all.
thirschfeld August 30, 2010
oh my, that is a good cocktail. I am glad my wife doesn't like gin so I can drink the second one.
Jestei August 30, 2010
Yes I made one again tonight and didn't even bother to strain it. Just lots and lots of crushed ice. (Virtual) cheers to all!
dymnyno August 30, 2010
well...I start at 5:00 PDT after a hard day of tasting wine! Gin really cuts to the chase!
MrsWheelbarrow August 31, 2010
I enjoyed the Gin Rickey SOOOO much, I didn't even come back to socialize during happy hour. I used Hendrick's Gin, which is my new favorite, tho Junipero is also outstanding.
thirschfeld August 30, 2010
I really like the line, "the announcement from your summer share mates that they are packing up early and have left you a pile of clean towels and the back porch from which to watch the sunset all to yourself." I just know that feeling in my stomach, sadness at the end of summer and excitement of an evening to yourself. Kinda like starting back to school.

Jestei August 31, 2010
here in dc they start back two weeks before labor day so i get to pouring early!
Lizthechef August 30, 2010
Very adaptive! Glad to hear you are coping with the move so creatively ;)
Jestei August 31, 2010
for now!!
mrslarkin August 30, 2010
Oh, very nice, Jenny. At the market the other day I spotted simple syrup in a bottle. IN A BOTTLE! For 5 bucks! My jaw dropped. But then I thought "Don't be judgemental, Mrs. Larkin. Maybe some folks out there are just too busy with really important stuff to be boiling equal parts water and sugar in a pot until the sugar dissolves."
Jestei August 31, 2010
i think it just proves there is a market for everything and we must find our own incredibly insane item to sell too
drbabs August 30, 2010
Must get cocktail shaker today.
Jestei August 30, 2010
Or you can use my method: pour it over ice in a two cup measuring cup and strain into an antique champaign glass.
drbabs August 30, 2010
even better! Thanks!
healthierkitchen August 30, 2010
OK, so DC takes a little getting used to. Don't even get me started on buying alcohol in Montgomery County, MD, just over the DC line. But welcome to DC regardless! P.S. Trader Joes usually has agave nectar, but the parking lot stinks. And, don't miss trying out the Rodman's on Wisconsin - fun but crowded wine and beer dept. and a basement filled with all kinds of (unnecessary) housewares. Just don't go on Sunday!
Jestei August 30, 2010
i realized today that i missed it in whole foods, too. but i think simple syrup is just great.
dymnyno August 30, 2010
I sell wine in DC, VA and MD...the laws are so different in each place that I can't even tell some wine stores what the price will be! The drink sounds like a godsend for a thirsty can something so good be a sin!
MrsWheelbarrow August 30, 2010
You absolutely should check out Rodman's. It will boggle your mind.