Bright, British, and Tart
The Gimlet is a peculiar cocktail. Its origins can be traced back to 19th Century British officers who were prescribed a mixture of gin and citrus juice as a way to fight off scurvy while out on the high seas. Similar to the classic daiquiri, the popularity of this cocktail can be credited to swarthy sailors looking for a comforting cocktail after they regained their land legs. But whereas the daiquiri was invented behind a bar, the Gimlet came into existence on ships where fresh citrus was hard to come across. In lieu of fresh lime juice, ships started carrying shelf stable lime cordials–the most common, and still readily available being Rose's Lime Cordial. The taste of this cordial is completely unique, with an almost unnatural green tint, intense citrus flavor, and a syrupy sweetness. When the recipe for the Gimlet made its way behind the bar, it originally called for equal parts Rose's Lime Cordial and gin.
Over the decades, and in the hands of some very talented bartenders, popular recipes for the modern Gimlet have tweaked the proportions and ditched lime cordial for fresh lime juice and simple syrup. While the flavor is slightly different from the version served to sailors, we applaud the substitution of fresh ingredients in place of artificial coloring and high-fructose corn syrup. Modern Gimlets are bright, refreshingly easy sippers. Still, there are some purist who believe that without the inclusion of lime cordial, it's not really a Gimlet. Cocktail guru Jeffrey Morgenthaler took on the challenge of reverse engineering a lime cordial recipe using fresh ingredients. While it's nice to have a homemade cordial on hand, we've come up with a recipe you can build without a bunch of prep that gets you pretty darn close to the original. We've also paid homage to the drink's naval origins by using our Big Bottom Navy Strength gin.
Here's how to make a classic Gimlet.
2 ounces Big Bottom Navy Strength Gin
.75 ounce fresh lime juice
.5 ounce 2:1 simple syrup
1 tsp fresh lime zest
This drink is best served in a chilled coupe glass. Before you get started, place a couple ice cubes in a coupe glass, or place the glass in the freezer for about 10 minutes. To build, add your simple syrup and zest from about half a large lime into a shaker. Then, add lime juice, gin, and a large scoop of ice. Shake hard for 20-25 seconds and double strain into your chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
The addition of the lime zest in this recipe helps give the drink a classic green hue and adds a little extra citrus zing you'd expect from a lime cordial. For the springtime, we've also really enjoy a Cucumber Gimlet variation. For that recipe, after you add your simple syrup and lime zest, drop a couple of large cucumber slices into your shaker and muddle slightly before adding your lime juice, gin, and ice. The cucumber adds a lovely garden freshness to this classic.