AJ Johnson’s Gin Rickey

Andra "AJ" Johnson, Serenata | Washington, D.C.

Gin Rickey Cocktail Recipe

Andra “AJ” Johnson created this juicy, aromatic Gin Rickey while consulting for a Mediterranean restaurant. The basil adds a “savory, saline element” to D.C.’s Green Hat Original Batch Gin, while the Buddha’s hand, basil and makrut lime simple syrup lend the drink bright, floral and earthy notes. Johnson strays from tradition by giving the cocktail a light shake to incorporate the syrup, which gives the cocktail a silky, yet clean, mouthfeel. You can find dried makrut lime leaves online, or substitute lemon syrup for the leaves and Buddha’s hand.


Serving: 1

  • 2 ounces gin, preferably Greenhat
  • 2 ounces gin, preferably Greenhat
  • 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce citrus-basil syrup (see Editor's Note)
  • 1 ounce citrus-basil syrup (see Editor's Note)
  • Club soda, to top, preferably Q
  • Club soda, to top, preferably Q

Garnish: straw, lemon and lime ribbons, fresh basil

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice.
  2. Strain into a highball glass over ice.
  3. Top with club soda.
  4. Garnish with straw, lemon and lime ribbons and fresh basil.
Editor's Note

Citrus-Basil Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2-inch piece of Buddha’s hand citron, peeled and diced (use the “fingers,” including the flesh)
1 1/2 to 2 dried makrut lime leaves
1 ounce lemon juice
2 to 3 basil leaves
Peel of 1 lime, pith removed

Add water and sugar to a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to incorporate. Raise heat to medium, and add Buddha’s hand, lime leaves and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to low and add basil. Cover syrup and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. (Let it steep longer, off heat, if you prefer a stronger basil flavor.) Remove from the stove and add lime peel. Allow syrup to cool, then strain into a nonreactive container. Lasts for up to 3 weeks.

NB: If you cannot obtain Buddha’s hand, Johnson recommends combining 5 ounces of lemon juice, 3 ounces of water and one whole lemon sliced into wheels, and following the recipe as directed.

Tagged: gin rickey, highball