A timeless classic, the Gimlet, a combination of gin and Rose’s lime cordial has its origins in the Royal Navy.
The Gimlet is believed to be named after Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette who gave gin with lime to sailors to prevent scurvy, a deadly disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Its origins are also attributed to the name of the sharp, hand tool used to bore in barrels of the Royal Navy ships – the gimlet.
The Gimlet cocktail features in The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) by Henry Craddock as “half gin, half lime juice, stirred and served in same glass, can be iced if desired”. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953) states “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else”. Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial was first produced in 1867 and became an integral part of the drink. In The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan specifies 2 oz Plymouth Gin, 0.75 oz lime cordial and 0.7 oz lime juice. The lime cordial is prepared by zesting lime and infusing it with simple syrup at room temperature for 10 minutes, using a ratio of 1 lime per 2 oz simple syrup.
Several variations of the Gimlet have gained popularity since, particularly when it comes to alternatives to Rose’s Lime Cordial. The following recipe is a contemporary take on the Gimlet followed by several variations. The ratio of 2 parts spirit, 1 lime juice and ½ sweetener leans towards the sour rather than the sweet end of the flavour spectrum.
Contemporary Gimlet Recipe
- 60 ml gin
- 30 ml lime juice
- 15 ml simple syrup (1:1)
Garnish: lime zest
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with lime zest.
Variations on the Gimlet
Modern variations on the Gimlet include the use of spirits other than gin such as vodka or tequila, changing the sweetener either by substituting a liqueur or by infusing a variety of herbs, fruit or flowers into simple syrup. Here are 6 variations on the Gimlet.
1. French Gimlet
For the French Gimlet, use 2 parts Gin or Vodka, 1 part Elderflower Liqueur and ½ part freshly squeezed lime juice, shaken and served up.
2. Rosemary or Thyme Gimlet
Give the Gimlet a piney herbal note by using 2 parts Gin, 1 part rosemary (or thyme) syrup and ½ a part freshly squeezed lime juice, shaken and served up.
3. Vodka Gimlet with Umeshu (Plum Wine)
Umeshu, or plum wine is a Japanese liqueur made by steeping ume, or Japanese plums with alcohol and sugar. It has a delicate, sweet, sour and fruity taste and can be used as the modifier in the Gimlet in lieu of syrup.
4. Basil Gimlet
Vegetal and refreshing, the Basil Gimlet is ideal for summer sipping. Muddle 8 basil leaves in a shaker, add gin, lime juice and simple syrup, shake with ice and double strain into a coupette. Garnish with a basil leaf.
5. Cucumber Gimlet
Cooling and refreshing, you can use a cucumber flavoured gin or muddle a couple of slices of cucumber in the shaker. Add gin, lime juice, simple syrup and ice. Shake and double strain.
6. Sage Gimlet
In a cocktail shaker, add torn sage leaves, gin, lime, simple syrup and ice. Shake well, then double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a sprig of sage.
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