Take Home an Iconic Sip’n Soda Lime Rickey in Southampton
While few things in Southampton have stayed the same over the past 60-plus years, the inveterate Sip’n Soda restaurant and homemade ice cream shop has remained one of the village’s last bastions of a bygone era. Their signature drink, the famous lime rickey, continues to hold a place of honor on the menu, but it recently became available in a convenient syrup so fans of the refreshing beverage can make it at home.
Sip’n Soda’s third-generation owner Mark Parash launched his new Cherry Lime Rickey Syrup during a special August 3 event at the restaurant, and he’s been selling it there for $16 a bottle since, or $30 for a kit, complete with three fresh limes and a squeezer.
“I wanted it to be just like you were there, or as close as you possibly can,” he says, explaining that his special formula perfectly matches the restaurant’s recipe, which mixes cherry syrup, fresh squeezed lime, seltzer and lemon.
It’s the lemon that makes Sip’n Soda’s lime rickey so unique.
“It was actually an accident how our version of the cherry lime rickey came up, because it’s a little bit different than your typical cherry syrup, seltzer and fresh squeezed lime,” Parash says, pointing out that his grandfather William, a Greek immigrant who opened Sip’n Soda with his wife Nicoletta in 1958, was making the standard lime rickey when he added lemon instead of lime by mistake.
As Parash imagines it, his thrifty grandfather didn’t want to waste ingredients and finished the mix with limes, leaving the lemon still in it. And what he found was something truly special. “It counteracts the sourness of the lime and the sweetness of the cherry, and just sort of blends the flavor of it,” he says, describing why the lemon is such a key component of the Sip’n Soda lime rickey. “It think that’s what makes ours, ours.”
In fact, the fizzy drink is so special, it’s drawn celebrity admirers, including the late, great bastion of taste Anthony Bourdain, whose daughter, Ariane Busia-Bourdain, wrote of cherished visits with her dad to enjoy lime rickeys at the Sip’n Soda counter. “Every time we’d go to the Hamptons, we’d go to this place called Sip’n Soda, and we’d both always have lime rickeys there,” she wrote in Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, which was excerpted in Vanity Fair magazine about three years after his untimely death.
The rickey itself dates back to its first incarnation as a highball cocktail with lime, bourbon (and then gin) and soda in 1883 at Shoomaker’s Bar in Washington D.C., according to Parash and numerous online sources, all noting that the alcohol was taken out later, and NY soda shops eventually added cherry syrup. But only Sip’n Soda makes it with this particular formulation.
“I always say it’s a really refreshing drink,” Parash says about the rickey. “Fresh squeeze a lime yourself, add 2 tablespoons of syrup and top it off with seltzer, and you mix, and bingo, you’ve got air conditioning in a glass!”
Each attractively labeled and classically designed 16oz bottle of Cherry Lime Rickey Syrup has enough to make eight, 16oz glasses — that’s two ounces per drink.
“This is a way for me to pay a little homage to my grandparents and father,” Parash continues, describing what makes this syrup so special, by honoring the two generations who preceded him at the restaurant — his father Paul and uncle Jim took over after his grandparents, and he took over after his father died.
“It’s something I can do now right now in-house because we have the formula, so I said let’s go for it. Let’s do something fun.”
For now, the Cherry Lime Rickey Syrup business is a small, fun little retail venture to go with serving breakfast, lunch and ice cream daily at the restaurant, but he’d like to begin expanding this new enterprise when things calm down after the summer. “We’re hoping by the holidays we get this online and we’ll be able to ship — I just want to get through the next couple weeks because it’s chaos out here over the next few weeks in our business,” he says. “We’d love to start shipping it and eventually go to another level with it.”
As much as Sip’n Soda is his true, brick-and-mortar family legacy, this new endeavor feels like it could be the thing to put the business in front of a whole world of new people. As Parash says, he has a great story and a restaurant with more than six decades of history — and for some observers, his Cherry Lime Rickey Syrup seems like it’s just one smartly produced TikTok or celebrity shout out away from becoming a sweet, refreshing sensation.
Sip’n Soda is located at 40 Hampton Road in Southampton. For more info, call 631-283-9752 or visit sipnsoda.com.