A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 30, 2016
Air Conditioning in a Glass (Rickey cocktail nickname)

A drink that is “air conditioning in a glass” is a refreshing summer drink. A grapefruit and basil martini was called “air conditioning in a glass” in 2007.

American mixologist and bar owner Derek Brown told NPR on July 3, 2009 about the Rickey (cocktail):

“One good reason for that (the rickey’s popularity—ed.) is it’s really refreshing. This is the closest thing to air conditioning in a glass.”

“Air conditioning in a glass” is now mostly mentioned to describe rickeys.


Wikipedia: Rickey (cocktail)
The Rickey is a highball drink made from gin or bourbon, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the rickey. Originally created with bourbon in Washington, D.C. at Shoomaker’s bar by bartender George A. Williamson in the 1880s, purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey, it became a worldwide sensation when mixed with gin a decade later.

A recipe for the rickey appears as early as Daly’s Bartenders’ Encyclopedia (1903, p. 57) by Tim Daly:

GIN RICKEY. Use a sour glass. Squeeze the juice of one lime into it. 1 small lump of ice. 1 wine glass of Plymouth gin. Fill the glass with syphon seltzer, and serve with small bar spoon.

Wikipedia: Derek Brown (mixologist)
Derek Brown (born September 21, 1974) is an American entrepreneur, writer and bartender (a term he prefers to mixologist). In addition to being a leader in the classic cocktail movement, he is an expert on the history and culture of spirits and drinks. Brown travels the world teaching seminars on the importance of alcohol in shaping our society, and learning about regional and local variations of spirits and drinks. He owns bars Columbia Room, The Passenger, Mockingbird Hill, Eat the Rich, and Southern Efficiency in Washington, D.C.

Brown serves on the Board of Directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail.

18 May 2007, The Journal News (White Plains, NY), “Summer cocktails at Hudson House” by Deven Black and Jill Rovitzky Black, pg. K26:
What you can’t get everywhere is the refreshing grapefruit and basil martini. The drink is the creation of bartender Andrew Barrett, who starts by muddling a small handful of fresh basil leaves with grapefruit chunks, peel and all. He then adds grapefruit-flavored vodka and just a touch of simple syrup, shakes it all with ice, and gracefully decants it into a chilled glass. The resulting concoction, an icy pastel green flecked with darker green bits of basil, is bracing. It’s a little fruity, a little tart and a little herbaceous, with a vodka kick. All in all, air conditioning in a glass.

Twitter
Joe McCanta
‏@joemccanta
UKTV Market Kitchen just called--doing a face off for the Ultimate Summer Cocktail on the 28th there--air conditioning in a glass…
8:12 AM - 11 May 2009

Twitter
Sarah Lang
‏@_sarahlang
Friday means I’m making G&Ts for the team. Air conditioning in a glass and team bonding, all in one.
3:30 PM - 26 Jun 2009

3 July 2009, NPR, “Tell Me More: A Toast To Independence”:
Mr. DEREK BROWN (Drink Historian, Gibson Lounge): Well, not only do I have a lot of pride obviously in the United States but also civic pride in Washington, D.C., and this cocktail was invented in D.C. in 1883 by a guy named George Williamson after Colonel Joe Rickey, was a Democratic lobbyist at the time, and it was originally made with bourbon, but the more popular incarnation was a gin Rickey, and that became extremely famous.

One good reason for that is it’s really refreshing. This is the closest thing to air conditioning in a glass.

Twitter
Dr Vino
‏@drvino
Ch. De Roquefort “Corail” 2009: air conditioning in a glass
6:01 PM - 6 Jul 2010

We Love DC
4:00 PM 08 JUL 2010
We Love Drinks: Rickey Month
(...)
Enter the Rickey – “an air conditioner in a glass,” as Derek Brown termed it last night at a Columbia Room seminar on the history and making of our very own native cocktail. Wait, DC has its own cocktail? Indeed. July is Rickey Month, in its third year designated by the DC Craft Bartenders Guild to celebrate and spread the word on a very simple yet heat wave essential drink.

Twitter
Stephanie Lucianovic
‏@grubreport
@food52 Fee Bros Grapefruit bitters + Fever Tree Ginger Beer + gin = air conditioning in a glass.
11:47 AM - 15 Jul 2010

30 July 2010, Washington (DC) Post, pg. T3:
RICKEY MONTH
COCKTAIL JUDGING
Monday
Washington is a city of differences, but there are two things everyone agrees on: the Rickey—usually gin, fresh lime juice and club soda—was born right here in Washington, and during a D.C. summer, the drink is like air-conditioning in a glass. Bartenders have been serving unique twists on the classic cocktail all month, and their creativity will be judged by a panel that includes our own Fritz Hahn beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Passenger, 1021 Seventh St. NW. $10, including one free drink; free admission with a completed Rickey Month Passport.
-- By Alex Baldinger

i spy things DC
AUGUST 3, 2010 BY DCSPY
Too many delicious rickeys, too low a tolerance
So last night SPY celebrated the culmination of Rickey Month at the Passenger. If you haven’t read about it in a million media outlets, the rickey is the official drink of Washington DC. Dubbed “air conditioning in a glass” by the Passenger’s Derek Brown, the rickey is exceptionally simple and refreshing. Just take 2 ounces of gin, a half squeezed Persian lime, sparkling mineral water, ice and voila! You have a gin rickey.

Google Books
Prohibition in Washington, D.C.:
How Dry We Weren’t

By Garrett Peck
Charleston, SC: History Press
2011
Pg. 110:
JOE RICKEY
Like air conditioning in a glass on a hot, sultry day. The Rickey was invented at Shoomaker’s in Washington in the 1880s and named for lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey, who was also the bar’s owner.

Serious Eats
Apr 23, 2015 9:00AM
The Rise and Fall of the Lime Rickey, the Soda Fountain Comeback Kid
JACLYN EINIS
(...)
Everyone can at least agree on one thing: The lime rickey is incredibly refreshing. As Philis summed it up, borrowing a term D.C. bartender and author Derek Brown popularized in reference to the gin rickey: “It’s air conditioning in a glass.”

Twitter
Distilled Spirits
‏@DistilledSpirit
The #Gin Rickey: Created during the #Prohibition, this cocktail has been described as “air conditioning in a glass”.
8:07 AM - 26 Jun 2015

The Daily Beast
BELTWAY BOOZE 04.30.16 12:01 AM ET
Why The Rickey Is What The President Should Be Drinking
We’d like to introduce Washington’s A-list to the joys of the Rickey—and this weekend of boldface socializing seems to be the ideal moment.

By Noah Rothbaum
(...)
As a result, the concoction is the perfect antidote to D.C.’s famously humid and hot summer weather. “Its nickname is air conditioning in a glass,” says Garrett Peck, author of Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren’t. “It’s the perfect hot weather drink.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, April 30, 2016 • Permalink