Watermelon Vodka Rickeys


If I were to become as committed to the world of drinks as the universe of food, I’d choose to obsess over cocktails. I don’t have the encyclopedic memory needed to become an expert in wine. I’ll drink pretty much any beer from Bud to double bocks, which makes me far too un-picky to be a true aficionado.

Cocktails it is! I love how every mixed drink arrives at cocktail hour with a saga: a bartender who invented it, an era that characterized it, a group of people who loved it and sipped it and only it every night. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be exploring these stories and sharing recipes for cocktails over the next few months, thanks to Stoli Vodka, sponsor of my new Cocktail Hour series. As you follow along here, I hope you’ll also check out Stoli’s facebook page and twitter feed, and visit the Taste channel over at ORGNL.TV, which celebrates one-of-a-kind places, people, experiences–and food.

And now, here’s the story behind the rickey. The Watermelon Vodka Rickey.

Invented in Washington, D.C. in the 1880s, by a bartender who made drinks for Joe Rickey, a Civil War colonel and a lobbyist in the capital, the rickey had three ingredients and one important characteristic: it contained no added sugar. Mr. Rickey liked to mix up bourbon, lime juice, and seltzer but he poured in no sugar at all. Why? Never mind the effects of the booze, he didn’t want any sugar high to mess with his ability to manipulate politicians, according to Jason Ksomas and Dushan Zaric, authors of Speakeasy. Post-Joe, the rickey’s bourbon was replaced by gin, but it remained a popular drink in D.C., which is where I first had one, at the Rugby store in Georgetown, where we hosted a book party when In the Small Kitchen came out. There, the various citrus flavors of the rickeys were all cool, hydrating, tangy, and strong.

I love the rickey for the same reason Joe did. The lack of sweetness. And for another reason, too–the built-in hydrating power of the rickey, which has more seltzer than vodka. In case you fear that the elimination of extreme sweetness will render the vodka taste too strong, don’t worry. First, Stoli vodka tastes good. And second, the natural sugars of the watermelon and the brightness of the lemon conspire to make this the perfect summer drink, a modern revision of Joe Rickey’s simple bourbon rickey but one I think would be voted into office in the capital this summer. Cheers!

I wrote this sponsored post in partnership with Stoli Vodka and their ORGNL.TV site (especially the awesome Taste vertical!). Stay tuned for more fun vodka drinks in this Cocktail Hour series, and thanks as always for supporting the sponsors that make BGSK great!

Savor Stoli Responsibly. STOLICHNAYA® Premium Vodka. 40% Alc/Vol. Distilled from grain. William Grant & Sons, Inc. New York, NY. © 2013 Spirits International, B.V.


Watermelon Rickeys
Makes 4 drinks

All ounces refer to fluid ounces, which is how cocktails are usually made. I gave the measurements in cups as well, in case both aren’t marked on your measuring cup. You can make the watermelon mixture a few hours in advance, but pour fresh seltzer into each glass right when you’re ready to drink.

2 cups watermelon cubes
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) vodka
2 ounces (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice, from about 2 lemons
12 to 16 ounces (1 1/2 to 2 cups) cold seltzer
1 lemon, cut into slices, for garnish

Blend the watermelon cubes with the sugar. Strain through a fine sieve. You should have 1 1/4 cup of watermelon juice. Add it to a pitcher or large measuring cup with the vodka and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Distribute the mixture among 4 highball glasses. Add three ice cubes to each. Fill each to the brim with seltzer. Mix to combine. Garnish by slipping in a lemon slice or two. Toast!


This post is part of Food Network’s Summerfest! It’s watermelon week, so click through to tons more watermelon recipes.

Dishing: Watermelon Agua Fresca
The Sensitive Epicure:Watermelon with Feta, Mint, Olive Oil and Sea Salt 
Napa Farmhouse 1885:Watermelon Popsicles with Mint, Basil and Lime
Red or Green:Spicy Watermelon Salad with Grilled Mahi Mahi
Weelicious: Watermelon Cinnamon Granita
Taste With The Eyes: Watermelon Carpaccio, Blistered Shishito, Mitsuba and Lime
Dishin & Dishes: Summer Mixed Melon Nachos with Mascarpone Cream
Domesticate Me: Sparkling Watermelon Punch & Bowl
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Sweet and Salty Greek Watermelon Feta Mint Salad
Devour: Savory Watermelon Recipes
Made by Michelle: Watermelon Basil Lemonade

Posted in: Cocktail Hour
  • Divya shivaraman

    Perfect to go for party drinks

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Just what I’m hoping for :)

  • http://syddavis.blogspot.com/ Sydney Davis

    That sounds amazing!! I am totally obsessed with cocktails this summer, I have so many on my blog, they are so fun to make. I love that you are featuring the story behind each, that’s awesome!

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      I can’t wait to check them out, Sydney! I think they’re a pretty fun obsession.

  • Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig

    Love this so much! Not too overpowering and full of watermelon goodness!

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Thanks, Cathy!

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    These are absolutely perfect for these hot days!!

  • http://www.scarlettabakes.com/ Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes

    Gosh do I love these! So pretty and perfect for hot summer days. In fact, I need one in my hand right now…

  • Noemie

    Where can I find seltzer? (I live in Quebec, Canada) Can it be replaced with soda water ?
    I can’t wait to try this, it’s a perfect summer cocktail ! Thank you

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Yes – soda water absolutely works! I have a SodaStream so we actually make it at home!

  • Naza

    OMG!! this is delicious, i am getting SO hammered tonite! :)

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Ha! Love it!

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