Gimlet Cocktail
Gimlet Cocktail

A classic gimlet doesn’t need much: gin (or vodka, if you must), lime and simple syrup. That’s it! It’s a perfectly balanced gin sour that’s equally suited to a dinner party or a casual night out at home.

A simple, classic cocktail – simple Gin (or vodka), lime and sugar—The Gimlet is one of the jewels among classic cocktails, with a long history stretching from the high seas to Madison Avenue. Lime green, lime green and exquisite when well balanced, this gin sour is equal parts refreshing and anti-scurvy – who doesn’t need both?

What is the history of the gimlet?

Like any other classic cocktail, the Gimlet comes with a handful of competing origin stories. Most credited is its creation in the 1880s by Royal Navy surgeon Sir Thomas Gimlette, who encouraged his mates to take their gin rations with a healthy shot of lime juice, which helps prevent scurvy. Invented just a decade earlier, Lauchlin Rose’s lime juice syrup helped make this possible by simultaneously sweetening the drink and preserving the citrus.

As for its origins, you can Think of the gimlet as a cute gin rickey (minus the soda water) or another in a long line of descendants of the sour, one of the most important cocktail families. Originally a 50:50 mix of gin and lime liqueur, modern preferences for drier (better balanced) drinks have pushed the proportion of lime liqueur further and further down.

Gin Gimlet or Vodka Gimlet?

This will be a question only you can answer as there are many opinions, and they are strong.

Unless you specifically ask for vodka, most bartenders will likely serve it with gin, for good reason. It’s the gin that makes this a balanced, soulful drink with a soupcon of complexity, elegance and even strength. A great gimlet depends on the balance between juniper (from the gin) and fresh citrus: too much of the former and it’s overly stiff; too much of the latter, and it’s too tart. To a gin purist, vodka would be like signing up for a boring blind date.

What’s the best gin for a gimlet?

Their old-school gimlets were all made with Plymouth gin, a unique style of gin so special it has been named in over 20 recipes in the Savoy Cocktail Book and was so loved by Britain’s Royal Navy that they a higher proof version commissioned now known as “naval strength”.

Plymouth is drier than London Dry Gins, but more lemony and even botanical than most. It has enough character to give even a sour person some personality.

But a crisp, dry London-style gin like Tanqueray, Beefeater or Gordon’s also make good decisions. Save your more delicate or flavorful gins like Hendrick’s for substitute cocktails like a martini where those subtleties can be appreciated.

What’s the best vodka (if you go that route)?

Again, the same thought applies: save your Gray Goose for another occasion. Smirnoff is a perfectly good choice. Feel free to venture towards Ketel One with its hints of honey and subtle black pepper, or even Tito’s with its clean minerality and cereal character.

Fresh lime juice or rose?

After you’ve decided between gin or vodka (although there’s only one correct answer to the above, and it rhymes with “win”), what matters most is your choice of how to acidify and sweeten this drink.

Historically, the Gimlet is only made using Lauchlin Rose’s original formula for a lime liqueur – commonly available as Rose’s Lime Juice. But while original recipes and those of the many Gimlet originalists all call for Rose’s Lime Cordial, today’s Rose’s has changed greatly from Lauchlin’s original, with high fructose corn syrup and additives that wouldn’t make it through the door of most craft cocktails Bars.

The following recipe replaces Rose’s with a “quick lime syrup” hack that combines fresh lime juice with a simple syrup and fresh lime zest. If you want to use Rose’s, mix 1 ounce of Rose’s sweetened lime juice with 1/2 ounce of fresh lime juice.

Any fun variations on the gimlet?

  • The Richmond gimleta creation of Jeffrey Morgenthaler, simply contains mint shaken with the same ingredients as mentioned below.
  • A basil gimletby mixing the basil leaves with either a simple syrup or agave nectar, it will be slightly herbal and more than a little refreshing.
  • Vodka Gimlet: For some of the standard, this should still be considered a variation, and one not without great qualities of its own.
  • Ancho Gimlet: This slightly spicy version contains Ancho Reyes Verde, a peppery Mexican liqueur.

More popular classic cocktails

  • Manhattan cocktail
  • Negroni cocktail
  • Boulevardier cocktail
  • Old fashioned cocktail
  • Hemingway Daiquiri


Check out this gimlet cocktail recipe

Gimlet cocktail

preparation time
4 minutes

total time
4 minutes

1 serving


  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup

  • zest of a fresh lime (optional)

  • 2 ounces gin (Plymouth Dry Gin or Tanqueray)

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice


  1. Prepare simple syrup:

    Make a simple syrup with a 1:1 ratio of sugar to hot water (more on this here) and steep the lime zest in a non-reactive container for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, finely strain and refrigerate what you don’t use today.

  2. Combine ingredients:

    Combine the gin, simple syrup, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for about 30 seconds or until frost forms on the shaker.

  3. Strain and serve:

    Double loading in a chilled coupé or martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

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