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.
To make this classic gimlet cocktail you’ll need:
- 2.5 oz gin
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- Squeeze of a slice of fresh lime juice
- Lime wedge
Note: While you can buy simple syrup at most shops, we have the best results with a home-made version.
Simply mix one-part water and one-part sugar and slowly blend on the stove over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Remember, patience is key: if you use high heat you risk burning the sugar, which results in a more bitter drink. We’ve done it and it was not a perfect gimlet experience, to say the least. A slow approach here proves that good things come to those who wait.
- Add ice to the shaker.
- Combine all ingredients above.
- Shake the ingredients well enough to chill the entire cocktail.
- Pour into either a chilled cocktail glass or an old-fashioned glass with ice.
- Garnish with a lime wheel.
WHY SHAKE A GIMLET COCKTAIL?
Shaking aerates the alcohol. In other words, it agitates and awakens it a bit. Some people refer to this as “bruising the gin.”
Whatever term you prefer, shaking gin gives the gin more bite. This is particularly important when blending with sugar, which dulls the gin’s flavor and can overpower a gimlet.
Shaking the cocktail achieves a more balanced blend between gin, lime, and sugar, resulting in a more memorable and nuanced gin gimlet.
Gimlet Nutrition Facts
The nutrition facts for a single gin gimlet are:
- 223 calories (0.1 from fat)
- 0g Fat
- 0g Saturated fat
- 0% Cholesterol
- 1.9 mg Sodium
- 11g Total Carbohydrates (4%)
- 8% Vitamin C
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.See More