Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

The Gimlet

We have often cited the importance of using fresh juice in cocktails, and we stand behind the idea. One of the easiest ways to up your game when making amazing craft cocktails is to always use fresh juice. Of course, many rules have exceptions, and the fresh juice rule has but one: The Gimlet.

The Gimlet is a classic English cocktail that uses lime cordial, not fresh-squeezed lime juice. We are talking about Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice—a bottled product that is intensely sour and painfully sweet. It is effectively a preserved lime juice product that contains sugar, and as such, it cannot be a substitute for actual lime juice in other recipes. Yet, bartenders and ignorant enthusiasts have been using Rose’s for years when they should have been squeezing actual limes. All recipes that call for lime juice get ruined when you use Rose’s. Just don’t do it. However, the Gimlet stands apart by turning this logic upside-down, specifically calling for the bottled stuff. Sure, you can make a Gimlet with fresh lime and it will be a decent rendition, but it’s not a true Gimlet without lime cordial, and people who like them will know the difference.

We have enjoyed the Gimlet since before the modern cocktail renaissance, but we sorta gave up on it early when we decided to stop using Rose’s Lime Juice in drinks. Our cocktail repertoire is much better as a result, but the time as come to return to this classic and to do it right. This is really the ONLY cocktail you should ever make with Rose’s Lime, and we are going to do it even better by avoiding the commercial product completely! Surely, a homemade lime cordial that avoids artificial flavors and questionable sweeteners is much better than anything you can buy in a bottle. Follow this link and mix up your own lime cordial, then you can make the best version of this drink.

Fortunately, the Gimlet is one of the easiest cocktails to make, and technically, once you have the cordial, you don’t need fresh fruit. You also have spirit options. Traditionally, this is a gin-based drink, but you can make a vodka gimlet by changing the base spirit. However, even if you don’t consider yourself a gin drinker, we encourage you to try both versions. It may surprise you how gin interacts with the lime cordial in ways that vodka never can. When we used to drink Gimlets in years past it was always the vodka variation, but we understand now why this is better with gin. Since vodka is flavor-neutral it brings nothing to the glass. But with gin, you open up all sorts of possibilities. These days there are so many fantastic gins to choose from that offer a huge variety of flavors. The botanical mix can have a profound affect on this cocktail overall, so it is hard not to enjoy exploring the diversity that each brand contributes to such a simple recipe. From floral nuances to spice and citrus, this drink is much better with gin. We won’t bother with vodka from now on, as it represents just one version: the plain lime version.

2 oz gin (or vodka, but why?)
2/3 oz lime cordial (see recipe above, or Rose’s if you must)

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

We will sometimes add a squeeze of real lime juice for just a hint of freshness, but devotees to the gimlet will pickup on that trick as it slightly changes the flavor. You can also serve it with a wedge on the side and let your guest decide if they want it.

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6 years ago

Really interesting article Randy. You always go the extra mile to get the best of the stuff you present. Do you think the lime cordial keeps for some time or can you add an ounce or two of vodka depending on how much you make to help preserve it? I will definitely try it some day.

Caldeiras Porto
Caldeiras Porto
6 years ago

This Gimlet recipe is simply exploded. Congratulations.