What could be more civilized? Sitting in the shade, Gimlet in hand, listening to the hum of the bees, and contemplating the riddle of how something so simple could be so refreshing, when a voice inside your head suddenly shouts: “Mister Christian, one of my coconuts is missing!” and you now contemplate whether to start the mutiny immediately or wait until you finish your drink.
The Gimlet (or what would become the iconic drink) likely first saw the light of day on a foul-smelling, scurvy-ridden ship in the Royal Navy. Thanks to The Merchant Shipping act of 1867, preserved lime juice was to be introduced aboard all ships for the health of the crew. It was only a matter of time before someone, probably an officer, decided to “enhance” the lime juice with gin to help it go down easier. No ice, by the way. So there you have it. Maybe.
The Gimlet is the simple combination of Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial or Sweetened Lime Juice and gin. Could you make it with fresh limes and sugar or simple syrup? Of course, and it would be a fine drink, but not a Gimlet. This is the only time I break with the rule that all juices must be freshly squeezed and use something from a bottle. The Gimlet has a signature taste that only comes from using Rose’s. Anything else should be stowed in the sea locker (i.e. thrown overboard. Thank you Royal Navy slang dictionary). As an aside, Rose’s should never be used as a substitute for lime and sweetener in another cocktail.
The proportions for the Gimlet and whether simple syrup is added is completely up to personal taste. Raymond Chandler’s famous detective, Philip Marlowe, stated that a proper Gimlet was half gin and half Rose’s with nothing else. I prefer a bit more gin than lime in mine.
¾ oz Rose’s Lime Juice
Simple Syrup to taste (optional)
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
If you want to channel your inner hard-boiled detective, put it in a lowball glass. If you want it on the rocks, up the ingredients a bit to compensate for the extra dilution. If you are using a softer gin, not a London Dry style, then I would cut back on the Rose’s. I like Plymouth gin in my Gimlets. And as soon as I finish this drink, Capt. Bligh and I are going to have words.