The Gin Gimlet is a rare gin cocktail that’s popular among both gin novices and long-time connoisseurs. A gimlet cocktail is elementary enough that it lets the gin shine through, but this gimlet drink also has a sweetness that makes it approachable and eminently enjoyable.
The Gin Gimlet wasn’t always so revered. When it was invented in the 1920s, gin gimlet recipes called for two parts gin, one-part lime juice – a combination that proved too tart for most casual cocktail drinkers. Bartenders explored new variations over the next decades, finding new ways to make the gin gimlet, and in the 1950s many agreed the best route was by adding simple syrup to temper the lime’s acidity. The result is a gimlet cocktail that’s straightforward enough to let gin shine but nuanced enough to appeal to diverse tastes.
This version of the gin gimlet became so ingrained in cocktail culture that legendary author Raymond Chandler included it in his classic 1953 novel The Long Goodbye. Of course, it wasn’t a long goodbye to the gin gimlet, that perennial favorite.
Please enjoy one of the best gimlet recipes we’ve learned over the years, as well as gimlet variations and our recommendations for the best gin for gimlets. As always, we encourage you to create your own versions and, we hope, share the results.
Gimlet - The Perfect Recipe
As you make your way through the assortment of classic gin cocktails you’ll discover a number (if not most) contain lime juice and simple syrup. That’s basically what the gimlet is. In fact, it was originally used to help sailors avoid scurvy with the combination of gin, lime juice, and sugar. Hopefully you are not struggling with scurvy, but if you’re looking for a simple, elegant, classical, and refreshing cocktail, the gimlet is a fine location to start. In fact, the vast majority of other gin cocktails are variations built off of the gimlet.
- 2.5 oz Gin
- 0.5 oz Fresh lime juice
- 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- Lime wheel/twist garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add in the three ingredients. Shake the mixture and strain it into an old fashioned glass (you can also use a chilled cocktail glass if you so choose). Now rim the glass with the lime wheel. Ideally you’ll run the lime around the entire lip of the glass to ensure whomever is drinking the cocktail will have the initial taste of lime on their tongue.
- calories - 223
- carbohydrate - 11g
- cholesterol - 0mg
- fat - 0g
- protein - 0.1g
- sodium - • 1.9mg
- sugar - 9.6g
Best Gin For Gimlet Cocktails
The best gin for gimlets comes down to your personal preference, but popular options for gimlet recipes include affable Bombay Sapphire, reliable Hendrick’s, and Bluecoat, an American-made gin named for the Bluecoat revolutionaries who pushed back Redcoat British during the War of Independence.
Whichever gin you choose for your gimlet cocktail, be aware that the sugar content here will mask the gin’s inherent flavors. [Please revisit our previous note on shaking cocktails.]
While sweetness makes a gin gimlet a popular cocktail for warm-weather events, it also means you don’t – and perhaps shouldn’t – pay top dollar for a juniper-forward gin.
We suggest you find a quality gin for an affordable price, such as Beefeater – it blends exceptionally well with citrus-based mixers, making it an ideal choice for gin gimlets.
The gimlet is elegant in its simplicity – just a trifecta of ingredients. This means there’s less room for gimlet variations than with more embellished drinks.
Yet there are still some notable options for people looking for gimlet variations and unique gimlet recipes. And in addition to these gimlet variations, you can – and we hope you do – create your own gimlet recipe. Perhaps with an inventive citrus-based infusion, such as a yuzu-flavored gimlet? That’s the beauty of gin – it’s versatile.
If you do create your own gin gimlet, please let us know the results. We really enjoy learning about new cocktails.
In the meantime, here are gimlet variations we know and endorse.
- Vodka Gimlet
We are partial to gin but have been known to enjoy a vodka in our day. It’s a standard substitute for gin, as in a vodka martini, because vodka lends gin cocktails a lighter flavor profile. While a vodka gimlet does lose some of the gin gimlet’s complexity – lime and sugar are far more prominent here – it’s undoubtedly a reliable gimlet cocktail, and very easy to mix: simply replace gin with vodka and enjoy.See More
- Cucumber Gimlet
If a traditional gimlet cocktail is too tart for your taste, we suggest trying this gimlet variation: The Cucumber Gimlet. A slice or two of crisp, cool cucumber elevates the gimlet from biting to bright. This invigorating addition also provides more space for the gin itself to reveal its own personality. This means that you should put more consideration into the gin brand you choose for this gimlet drink. If you prefer juniper-forward gins, we suggest zesty small-batch brand Sipsmith; and if you’d like something more muted, we suggest Hendrick’s; its subtle cucumber notes add another dimension of refreshment. And for more on the many types of gin, please read our What is Gin? Page.See More
- Basil Gimlet
A basil gimlet is similar to the cucumber. It is a fresh, cheery gimlet variation, but flavor here’s far drier and more peppery or pungent. The basil gimlet is also more perennial: it works well in the summer months, of course, but wouldn’t be out of place by a crackling fire, either.See More
- French Gimlet
A uniquely floral gin gimlet variation, the French Gimlet uses St. Germain instead of simple syrup. An artisanal spirit made from elderflowers, St. Germain lends this gin gimlet variation a more mellow and elegant sweetness than syrup, therefore revealing more of the gin’s flavor. In this case, we do suggest putting a bit more consideration into the gin you choose: if you prefer juniper-led brands, Bombay Sapphire’s a wonderful and accessible option.See More
- Tequila Gimlet
Almost as classic as the vodka gimlet, the tequila gimlet is essentially a stronger margarita, minus the salt. We particularly enjoy them at late night dance events where abandon’s welcome. To make your own tequila gimlet, simply substitute the tequila of your choice for gin.