SippitySup’s Lime Gimlet Cocktail

Today I have another classic cocktail using my favorite spirit, gin.

And, it’s a gimlet. And not just one gimlet but three gimlets. Not that I am encouraging you to drink three gimlets, but I am offering three versions of a gimlet.

In case you did not know, a gimlet is a lime-a-licious gin-based drink stirred or shaken over ice. Then strained into a cocktail glass and served “up”. Though I have seen them prepared over rocks with a splash of club soda.

The original cocktail was brought to the world by the gin loving British. Those crazy Brits must have considered gin medicinal, because British sailors used this cocktail to ward off scurvy . Yesterday’s gin and tonic was insurance against malaria. It really brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “take your medicine”, doesn’t it?


roses lime juice logoThere is some debate about from where the name gimlet came. As scurvy was a sailors disease it seems likely that the corkscrew-like device of the same name is probably a good guess. It was used to bore into shipping barrels like the conatiners lime juice traveled in.

In 1867 a Scottish fellow named Lauchlin Rose figured out a way to add sugar to processed lime juice. This helped keep the juice from spoiling on long journeys at sea.

Today’s gimlet is made with a mixer that bears its inventor’s name: Rose’s lime juice. In days of scurvy the concoction was referred to as lime cordial. But it is better described as sweet lime syrup, and it is used in many cocktails.

The gimlet reached its zenith of glamorous sophistication in the 1930’s when writer Raymond Chandler assigned the cocktail as the plymouth gincocktail of choice for his wildly popular character, Philip Marlowe. In the novel The Long Goodbye, detective Marlowe made famous the phrase, “A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else.”

When I turned my research to the be-all-and-end-all (to many a mixologist) of cocktail genealogy The Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book, I found that the classic recipe for this cocktail was indeed made up of equal parts of Plymouth gin and Rose’s lime juice.

So for you I include a recipe for what I will call: The Classic Gimlet

1 1/2 ounces gin

1 1/2 ounces Rose’s lime juice

Lime wedge for garnish

Fill a mixing glass with cracked ice. Stir in the gin and lime juice. Strain into a very cold cocktail glass. Squeeze the lime wedge into the cocktail and drop the lime into the glass.

However, many people today (including me) find this recipe way too sweet. So I have taken the liberty of rewriting the classic recipe just a tad for modern tastes. Another big change is size. Notice this is a 4‑ounce cocktail. Today’s cocktail glasses are usually gia-normous! So I am also offering: The Contemporary Gimlet.

3 ounces of gin

1‑ounce Rose’s lime juice

Twist of lime

Fill a mixing glass with cracked ice. Stir in the gin and lime juice. Strain into a very cold cocktail glass. Pinch the lime twist over the glass. Then rub the rim of the glass with the twist and drop it into the glass.

sippitysup's lime gimlet cocktailAnd finally I offer you my version. I like the pucker of unsweetened fresh lime juice with just a hint of sweet Rose’s. I also recommend Plymouth Gin. It has a sweeter perfume than the standard London Dry styles of gin. I also like mine shaken not stirred. Those little flecks of ice really hit the spot for me. This I call: The SippitySup Lime Gimlet Cocktail.

2 1/2 ounces Plymouth gin

1‑ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

1/2‑ounce Rose’s lime juice

Twist or wedge of lime

Fill a mixing glass with cracked ice. Stir in the gin and both lime juices. Shake vigorously for 15–20 seconds. Strain into a very cold cocktail glass. Garnish with either a twist or a wedge of lime.


Greg Henry