An uncomplicated, textbook mixed drink–just gin/vodka, sugar, and lime–the Gimlet is a prize amid quintessential cocktails, boasting a storied past that ranges from the British Navy to Manhattan.
Pale sage, prominently citrusy, and superb when done properly, this gin sour is both energizing and staves off scurvy–what more could you ask?
Origins of the Gimlet
As with most prototypical mixed drinks, accounts of this cocktail’s genesis differ. The most compelling relates the story of how Sir Thomas Gimlette, a Royal Navy surgeon, first concocted the classic gimlet in the 1880s while persuading his shipmates to drink lime juice, to avert scurvy, with their gin allotment.
Introduced just ten years prior, Lauchlin Rose’s lime juice syrup sweetened the deal, as it were, by maintaining the citrus component while also sweetening the drink.
Mixologically-speaking, this gin cocktail belongs to the sour family of mixed drinks, a sort of sweet gin rickey, minus the seltzer.
The original gimlet recipe called for half gin and half lime cordial, but the contemporary trend of drier aperitifs means the proportion of gin has gradually increased over the years.
Today, most gimlets are not made with lime cordial. Instead, bartenders mix up this classic cocktail with gin, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a touch of simple syrup to sweeten the drink.
Gin or Vodka?
If you ask any serious fan of cocktails for their advice on this, prepare yourself to get an earful.
Most mixologists use gin unless vodka is expressly asked for, because a really smashing specimen relies on the proportion of the gin’s juniper to fresh lime: overdo the latter, the sourness is overpowering; an excess of the former, and it’s way too stiff.
Gin has more botanical flavor than vodka, and the combination of gin and lime is always a winning one. The citrus flavor of the lime juice pairs beautifully with gin, which is why this is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time.
As far as a gin enthusiast is concerned, using vodka is akin to ordering vanilla ice cream. Proponents of vodka, on the other hand, see gin more like rainbow sherbet: loud, colorful, overpowering. If you’re making a sundae, vanilla makes the best base.
How to Make
The ingredients below use the hip-and-modern blend of fresh lime juice with simple syrup and fresh lime zest instead of Rose’s Lime Cordial.
But if your inner purist will accept no substitutes, combine one ounce of Rose’s Lime Juice with one-half ounce fresh lime juice.
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 1/2 ounces gin
- (Optional) 1 lime wheel
- Combine the simple syrup, lime juice, and gin together with the desired amount of ice and shake until thoroughly mixed and chilled
- Strain combined ingredients into a chilled coupe or martini cocktail glass
- (Optional) Garnish with a lime wheel
Best Gin for Gimlet
Classic examples of this gin cocktail used to be prepared with Plymouth gin, a one-of-a-kind gin style specifically demanded in no less than two dozen Savoy Cocktail Book recipes.
The British Royal Navy adored Plymouth gin so much that they ordered a stronger form that is known to this day as “Navy Strength.” Plymouth gin has been described as “earthy” as well as citrusy. Its flavor profile will come through, even in a sour.
Other prime candidates are dry London-style gins such as Tanqueray, Gordon’s, or Beefeater. Avoid more elegant or fragrant gins, such as Hendrick’s. Their delicacy will be lost on a sweet, fruity sour.
The Best Vodka (If You Insist)
Rose’s Lime Cordial vs. Fresh Lime Juice
Traditionally, it’s not authentic if it doesn’t contain Lauchlin Rose’s original lime cordial, better known as Rose’s Lime Juice.
It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that the Rose’s Lime Juice available today is pretty far from Rose Lauchlin’s original formula. The majority of craft cocktail bars disdain high-fructose corn syrup and other additives that have found their way in.
Aside from the vodka gimlet, there are a few variations on the classic gimlet cocktail worth trying.
- Richmond: Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s variant that shakes in some mint
- Ancho: incorporates Ancho Reyes Verde, a spicy Mexican liqueur that adds some heat
- Basil: includes a mix of either simple syrup or agave nectar with basil leaves for a brisk and faintly earthy flavor
If you’re looking for a delicious, classy, elegant aperitif, look no further than this timeless cocktail. It won’t let you down.
What are gimlets made of?
The classic gimlet recipe consists of gin, lime juice, and simple syrup. Some recipes call for gin and Rose’s lime juice cordial, which is a sweetened lime juice you can also use.
What is the difference between a gimlet and a Collins?
Both the gimlet and the Tom Collins are classic gin cocktails. There are a few differences between the two, however.
The gimlet uses lime juice, while the Tom Collins uses lemon juice. Moreover, the gimlet is shaken in a cocktail shaker and served straight up, while the Tom Collins is served over ice and topped with club soda.
What is the best gin to use in a gimlet?
The gimlet is a simple cocktail, so you can use any gin, but a high quality gin is recommended since it’s not a heavily diluted cocktail. We like to use Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, or Bluecoat, but you can choose any gin that fits your tastes.
Why is it called a gimlet?
The story is that the drink was created by Sir Thomas Gimlette, a Royal Navy Surgeon who had sailors drinking lime juice to avoid scurvy and added gin to turn it into a cocktail.
A gimlet is also a hand-held drill used on Navy ships, where the drink originated, so that may also be a source of the name. The drink was said to have a piercing effect on sailors, just like the drill.
What alcohol is in a gimlet?
The classic gimlet recipe calls for gin, but the vodka gimlet has also become a popular choice for those who don’t enjoy the taste of gin.
What glass is a gimlet served in?
The gimlet is served straight up after being shaken in a cocktail shaker, and it’s traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass, ideally a coupe glass, a martini glass, or a Nick and Nora glass.