It doesn’t get much simpler or more refreshing than the classic Gimlet. Composed of gin, fresh lime juice and sugar, the cocktail is classified as a gin sour, putting it in great company with other tried-and-true drinks. Drinks like the Daiquiri, which is a rum sour.
The Gimlet’s origin isn’t clear, but it’s believed to have been invented out of necessity by British sailors in the late 18th century. Sailors, as the story goes, needed the citrus to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. The best way to get sailors to drink lime juice? Mix it with liquor, of course. It didn’t take long to realize that this preventative drink was also delicious. So, while scurvy may be a thing of the past, the Gimlet is here to stay.
The drink eventually made its way into cocktail books—including the classic 1930 tome “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock—with varying recipes, ingredients and proportions. Today, fresh lime juice is the preferred choice, but for decades the Gimlet was predominately made with Rose’s lime cordial, a bottled mixture of lime juice and sugar that debuted in the 1860s. If using Rose’s in your drink, you can skip the simple syrup, because the cordial is already sweetened. Aim for one ounce of Rose’s to achieve the desired balance.
The Gimlet can also be made with vodka. This practice was particularly common during the 1980s and 1990s. But as gin regained its foothold with drinkers, gin retook its rightful place in the Gimlet. Gin is a natural companion to lime, and the spirit’s dry, botanical nature adds structure to the drink while keeping the sugar in check.
Click Play to See This Gimlet Recipe Come Together
- 2 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: lime wheel
Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with a lime wheel.