Angostura bitters and lime combine in this refreshing classic.
This week's recipe comes to you via an accidental collaboration between two of life's adventurers: Johann Siegert, a distinguished Prussian soldier and doctor, and "Colonel" Joseph Rickey, a maverick US lobbyist a generation his junior.
Siegert served in the battle of Waterloo aged just 19, patching up injured British and Prussian soldiers. After the war he set off for Venezuela, hoping to join Simon Bolivar's rebellion against Spanish colonial rule. On arrival in South America in 1820, he travelled more than 200 miles up the Orinoco river to Angostura, the town where Bolivar had his revolutionary headquarters.
It was a trip worth making. Siegert impressed Bolivar, who made him his surgeon general. In return, Siegert invented a tincture made from local barks and herbs, to treat stomach upsets among Bolivar's troops. He named his concoction Angostura bitters.
Siegert was proud of his creation. The same cannot be said for Joseph Rickey - who loved to moan that his real achievements in life had been overshadowed by a cocktail.
Rickey - a gambler, stock-market player and self-styled "friend of statesmen and politicians" - liked to drink bourbon, but feared it was "mighty injurious to the system". So he took to diluting it with carbonated water and a touch of lemon juice ("highly beneficial and tones up the stomach wonderfully"). The other punters in his favourite bar thought he might be on to something and ordered their own variations. They switched the lemon for lime, bourbon for gin - "a liquor no gentleman could ever bring himself to drink" - and added bitters. Then they named it after Rickey. He was horrified. Nevertheless, the drink is a fine one.
Try it without booze or with bourbon or gin. The level of sugar is a matter of taste - if having it with spirits, I would leave it out altogether.
Make your own lime rickey
100ml fresh lime juice
750ml soda water
1 lime, sliced
1 In a small pan, make a syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water over a low heat. Allow to cool.
2 Fill four highball glasses with ice. Divide the syrup and lime juice between the four glasses. 3 Top with the soda water and stir well.
4 Add four drops of the bitters to each glass and a few slices of lime. For an alcoholic drink, add a splash of bourbon or gin.
Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian