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HOH’s One-Minute Recess: A Toast to History

Washington got a shout-out Sunday night for a couple of things that it does exceptionally well — drinking, talking history and commemorating stuff.

A group of serious drinkers got together at the JW Marriott in downtown Washington this weekend to honor D.C.’s official drink (invented in the 1880s), the Rickey. The JW Marriott was formerly Shoomaker’s before prohibition shuttered it and the rest of the bars in D.C.’s Rum Row down. It was also the spot where the Rickey was invented by Col. Joe Rickey of Missouri.

The colonel once wrote, “I was Col. Rickey, of Missouri, the friend of senators, judges and statesmen and something of an authority on political matters and political movements … But am I ever the spokesmen for these reasons? I fear not. No, I am known to fame as the author of the Rickey, and I have to be satisfied with that.”

Nearly 100 years after it was forgotten, the Rickey has been embraced as Washington’s hometown drink and the cuty decided to dedicate a plaque to the classic gin or bourbon cocktail.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) was on hand, perched atop a bar stool to do the honors.

“I am accustomed to going to groundbreakings where they thrust a shovel in my hand,” she told the crowd. “I want to thank Derek [Brown, bartender and owner of the Columbia Room] and my good Rickey friends and the Marriott for shoving a Rickey in my hand.”

One of Norton’s major missions during her tenure in Congress, Norton said, has been to bring attention to Washington as something more than just a “government town.”

“You guys have really given me a lot to work with here!” she said.

Norton thanked D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans for authoring the resolution that has declared the Rickey as Washington’s official drink.

“We are the kind of people, we in D.C., that if we find a place where history was made, we pop a plaque on it,” she quipped.

“This town is quite seeped in history. Why not? It was born with the nation itself,” Norton said. “We nurture our history. We protect our history. We live in our history — I live in a historically protected house on Capitol Hill. I cannot change the exterior of the house. We so revere our history.”

But, she continued, “Now we are about to drink our history.”

If only history was this enjoyable in school.

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