Need A Drink? Silver Lyan’s Half-Smoke Rickey Is the Answer
July 1, 2022 @ 3:00pm
Creating a well-crafted cocktail consists of understanding flavor components, balancing artistry with chemistry. At Silver Lyan, they take crafting a cocktail a step further.
The mind behind the bar at the Rigg’s Washington Hotel, Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, is a world-renowned mixologist based in London who looks at every cocktail as a medium to tell a story. Each drink on Silver Lyan’s updated cocktail menu is based on different aspects of Washingtonian life, taking deep cuts on the city’s culture and the people who live here (transients not included).
Take the Half-Smoke Rickey. The gin-based cocktail is an effervescent delight, riding the line between sweet and refreshing. Rounding out the crisp drink is a flourish of back heat and a smokiness that draws you to take another sip. All three flavor aspects of the cocktail are enough to make it intriguing, but the idea behind the drink elevates the experience as a whole.
The cocktails’ flavor profile derives from half-smoke sausage. While it is not known where this style of sausage originated, it was first produced by a D.C. meatpacking company in the 1930s. The half pork, half beef blend spiced sausage became widely known when in 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl began to serve half-smokes on buns piled high with chili and onions.
Chetiyawardana decided to synergize the half-smoke spices with D.C.’s official cocktail: the Gin Rickey. The classic cocktail is usually made with gin, lime or lemon, sugar and soda.
Created in the late 1880s, the Gin Rickey was invented and named after Colonel Joe Rickey, a Democrat lobbyist who originally had the cocktail made with bourbon every morning at a bar named Shoomaker’s. Fast forward a decade later, and the Rickey began to make waves nationally with people ordering them with gin instead of bourbon. While the Gin Rickey fell out of favor by the 1950s, it made a comeback with the classic cocktail renaissance of the 1990s and 2000s, leading it to be named D.C.’s official cocktail in 2011.
The history lesson of Half-Smoke Rickey may not be known to every patron who decides to order the cocktail but it does explain its depth and complexity. The Half-Smoke Ricky is an updated classic that’s new flavor components might just give this cocktail a history of its own.
- Ford’s Gin, a classically-styled London dry
- Fennel, to bring out some of the spice notes characteristic of a half-smoke
- Flat top shrub, a local plant, and the play on words is a nod to flat-top griddles used to cook up half-smokes at iconic spots like Ben’s Chili Bowl and Weenie Beenie in Arlington
- Jalapeños, to bring some of the classic half-smoke spice.
Garnished with a cocktail onion pickled with more classic half-smoke spices like mustard.
Silver Lyan encourages patrons to take a bite of the pickled onion after a sip of the cocktail to get the full spectrum of half-smoke flavors into their drink. This cocktail can also be modified to non-alcoholic upon request.
Silver Lyan (inside the Riggs Washington Hotel): 900 F St. NW, DC; silverlyan.com //