The gimlet is a simple masterpiece — beloved by Raymond Chandler (and his chief creation, Philip Marlowe). The shaker is a mix of gin, lime, and sugar that feels like springtime in a glass. It’s refreshing and light while still having some real depth thanks to the botanical gin that comprises its base.
The cocktail has roots back in the 1920s, when so many classic cocktails were refined into classic final forms that we still mix up today. But it goes beyond that. The gimlet — which is basically just a combo of gin and lime — actually stretches back to the British Royal Navy and their technique for fighting scurvy by adding lime and sometimes sugar to their daily rations of gin.
Over the years, the recipe has shifted and been tweaked while falling in and out of fashion, like most cocktails recipes. In the 1950s, it was customary to use Rose’s Lime Cordial instead of fresh lime and sugar (that’s Chandler’s way). While that version is not without its charm, it misses that fresh burst of brightness from real and freshly squeezed lime juice. So the latter version is what we’re going with today.
Check the full recipe below.
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- 2 oz. London dry gin
- 0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
- 0.25 oz. simple syrup
- Lime peel
- Lime wheel
I’m using a standard London dry gin, Gordon’s. It’s easy-going, a great mixer, and pretty damn cheap and easy to locate. As for the rest, you’ll be able to find a good simple syrup at any liquor store. The rest is just fresh limes. Try and find some nice and juicy ones.
What You’ll Need:
- Coupe or Nick and Nora glass
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Pairing knife
- Prechill the glass in the freezer.
- Add the gin, lime juice, and simple to the cocktail shaker. Fill about 2/3 with ice. Shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds (until the shaker is ice-cold and frosted over).
- Strain into the prechilled glass.
- Express the oils from the lime peel over the glass and rub it around the rim and stem.
- Place a lime wheel on the rim of the cocktail. Serve.
If the dog days of winter are getting you down, this will remind you (instantly) that spring is almost here. It’s so bright and cheery it might as well be garnished with a daffodil.
The gin barely breaks through, with hints of juniper and anise as the lime and sugar really drive the taste. The sweetness is definitely there but not overpowering — as it can become with Rose’s Lime Cordial or when an amateur adds too much simple syrup.
Overall, this is a great shaker that’s super easy and fast to make. I made this one in about 30 seconds once I had my bar set up. Even if it takes you a whole minute to shake, it’s still worth it for the scurvy-fighting properties alone!