“You tell yourself you’re not my kind but you don’t even know your mind”
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I’ve made the case that peak ’70s era Steely Dan was some of the smartest and well-crafted music on Top 40 pop radio. It’s not a surprise this is their biggest hit. Easily accessible and a major earwig, it appears to be a formulaic “break-up song” where the singer is imploring his ex to keep his number. Then again (and bear with me here), it could also be the words of a pimp talking to a teenage runaway who’s decided The Life is not for her and she’s going home. (Yeah – maybe I’ve been watching The Deuce too closely.) It’s this light vs. dark interpretation, which runs through most of their work, that makes Steely Dan a truly underappreciated band.
In my Ann Arbor college days (*cough*theearly80s*cough*), I was a regular at Drake’s Sandwich Shop. It was a place out of time – vintage before vintage became a design trend. Simple sandwiches, like American cheese, lettuce, and tomato simple, and a grilled pecan roll from heaven. They had a huge selection of teas and made decent diner-style drip coffee, but my drink addiction was their limeade. They also made solid lemonade and orangeade, but it was the limeade I craved on a daily basis. Just enough sugar to cut the tartness served in a tall ice-filled soda fountain glass. It was a drink from a long-gone era and absolutely everything a perfect limeade should be.
This Lime Rickey is my tribute to my favorite Drake’s drink. What separates a “rickey” from an “ade” is the water ingredient. The limeade, like its more popular sibling lemonade, is generally finished with regular or mineral water. A “rickey” uses seltzer or tonic to create a sparkling drink. There is a debate among lime rickey devotees (not that I am one) as to the use of cherry or fruit syrup to finish the drink. I am firmly in the “no fruit syrup” camp, but I do take my own liberty by making a lime syrup with ginger. The ginger adds a little kick to the drink and using a lime syrup creates a lime to sugar balance I prefer. If you wanted more tartness, adding a dash of lime juice would work.
The syrup for this is made using a modified oleo-saccharum method. After juicing the limes, I macerate the lime rinds along with grated ginger in granulated sugar. This is left out at room temperature four hours and stirred every hour. The sugar will break down, pull moisture and oils from the rinds and ginger, and create a syrup. That syrup has a deeper, more floral taste than just using lime juice and simple syrup. While I have used turbinado to make this syrup, the larger crystals do not break down as well resulting in a syrup that requires secondary processing – usually thinning with water.
Lime rickeys are brilliant year-round, but this version seemed especially well suited to the first warm day at BGC HQ and some backyard grilling. A perfect chilling in the sunshine soft drink.
LIME RIKKI DON’T LOSE THAT NUMBER
Cold-brewed Lime Ginger syrup, Hudson Standard Ginger bitters, seltzer
Makes 1 drink
4oz lime ginger syrup
2 droppers Hudson Standard Ginger bitters (optional)
3-4 ice cubes
Place ice in a 12oz glass. Pour lime ginger syrup over ice. Fill the glass with seltzer. Stir and finish with the ginger bitters if using. Garnish with candied ginger.
LIME GINGER SYRUP
1 part lime rinds
½ part ginger, grated
½ part granulated sugar
NOTE: The proportions of this recipe are based on the weight of the lime rinds & ginger. If you have 16oz of lime rinds you’ll need 8oz of ginger and 12oz sugar (lime weight + ginger weight/2).
Cut lime rinds in half and place in a medium bowl with ginger. Sprinkle with sugar and stir to thoroughly combine. Cover and let sit on the counter for at least 4 hours – stirring every 30 – 45 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain syrup. In small batches, press rinds in the mesh strainer with a spoon to get every drop. Pour into bottle and store in the refrigerator.