Everyone who loves a Gimlet has a personal story to tell about their first experience with this timeless blend of gin, lime and sugar. Beverage pens are no exception. When New York Times writer Robert Simonson gathered pundits to crawl through the five boroughs in search of the ultimate gimlet for Punch Magazine, the way they learned about the cocktail posed their assumptions and the resulting dialogue about a lime liqueur in question. For Punch co-founder Leslie Pariseau, gimlets are more about the season – they always feel best in August.
Recipe: How to mix a “roughly refreshing” gin cocktail
Gimlets will always make me think of chess. For years when I was young, my dad and I would have a game almost weekly. It was untimed so as long as I was focused on my next move I could last as long as I needed. I almost never won, but I enjoyed the competitions we had from before I was eight through my early teens. I remember celebrating my first win with Gimlets; his made with gin, sweetened lime juice and a squeeze of fresh lime; mine the same, skipping the gin when I was 11 years old. I remember the game. We randomly chose sides grabbing red-white pawns to hide in my father’s outstretched hands. I got white Being the first to move gave me my chance and we started with a very standard opening. I was able to bind one of his knights to his queen. Swapping my bishop for it left his pawns in a weakened position, allowing me to play the rest of the game in the most risk-averse, defensive manner. It was boring, it wasn’t pretty, and I had learned everything from him. But I ended up converting a paver advantage into a second queen and the first of my only two wins in the streak.
I also remember the gimlet recipe. He shook equal parts Rose’s sweetened lime juice and Gordon’s gin, garnished with just a squeeze of fresh lime in the mix for his cocktail. (Years later, I would recognize this as the near-standard ratio we call “2-1-1,” or classic proportions. In theory, the sweetened lime is part lime juice and part sweetener.) Mine was all rose , again with that addition of a fresh lime wedge. Whatever adult distractions contributed to my win remains a mystery to me, as does the exact narrative of how this became one of his favorite cocktails. Ernest Hemingway was definitely mentioned, as was his work Green Hills of Africa. The part I remember most is how a bit of fresh lime juice made all the difference.
Meanwhile, avid Gimlet drinkers reading this are lining up at camps to argue about whether or not I’m right about the recipe at the end of this journal. Some will argue that the cocktail’s origin was in the invention of preserved lime juice, that it must be made with Rose’s brand or some other clarified lime liqueur. The fact that American-made Rose’s Lime is loaded with corn syrup and preservatives, while our friends in the UK and Canada still make theirs with real sugar, won’t put them off. Others might insist that the vodka variant is better, or that year-round freshly picked herbs from the garden with a pinch of salt are key.
I’ll always cherish the memory of my first gimlet, but you won’t catch me using an ingredient loaded with the preservative sodium metabisulphate and the dye Blue 1. I keep that “touch of fresh lime” as key and will continue to strive to enrich the memory with as many interesting versions of this classic cocktail as I can find.
Gin and Herb Gimlet
- 2 ounces. gin
- ¾ oz. lime juice
- ¾ oz. simple syrup
- pinch of salt
- Optional: herbs (recommended: mint, thyme, rosemary or tarragon)
- Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with fresh herbs or lime.
Join our next virtual cocktail class
Join Cocktail Club host Jackson Cannon and special guest Tuscan Brands Beverage Director Jose Luis Betancur Mixing Spring Gin Cocktails on March 31st at 7pm