The Gimlet is a timeless, effortless classic cocktail. A simple combination of gin and lime juice, it’s basically impossible to mess up, but there are many ways that you can customize this refreshing cocktail to your own taste buds. Some might add simple syrup to cut the bitterness, while others might make their own cordial rather than using the original staple: Rose’s Lime Cordial. No matter how you make it, it’s a beautiful tart drink with a unique origin story.
Unlike other cocktails that were made solely for the pleasure of sipping, the Gimlet was created out of necessity as a way to prevent scurvy among British sailors while at sea –– so maybe Mary Poppins was right about that spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down. In this case, it was the gin that made lime juice easier to swallow. Scurvy, a brutal, painful, and deadly disease brought on by vitamin C deficiency, was all too common on long sea voyages because of the lack of citrus juice on ships.
No one really knows who created this drink, but many give credit to Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette. It was said that he mixed gin and lime together to cut the bitter taste of the citrus so sailors would drink their medicine. And voilà, the Gimlet was born.
Others believe this libation was named after the hand tool, which was used to bore into barrels of spirits on Navy ships, and also called a “gimlet.” Regardless, today the simple drink has moved away from its status as medicine for sailors and instead appeals to the masses –– thanks in part to an early name drop in a popular crime novel.
In 1953, Raymond Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye” was published, and the Gimlet was made a famous cocktail noir. In the novel, fellow drinker Terry Lennox introduces Philip Marlowe to the iconic drink, saying: “A real Gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats Martinis hollow.” With these short lines, the Gimlet was cemented in bar and literary history. As its popularity rose, it became not just a drink for sailors, but a libation for the cocktail enthusiast looking for a refreshing drink.
With its seafaring origins set in the past, modern interpretation of this cocktail varies –– today, there’s no wrong way to create a Gimlet. Some keep it simple, while others prefer to jazz it up with bitters or DIY juices, but it’s all really up to personal preference. However, one element that has stayed a key ingredient in this cocktail is Rose’s Lime Cordial. Created in 1867 as a way to preserve lime juice, it was the first fruit cordial and remains the official mixer of the Gimlet if you’re not keen on making your own lime juice.
Another key to making a tasty Gimlet is using a great-tasting gin, and you can’t go wrong with Tanqueray London Dry Gin. After all, an excellent Gimlet needs a great classic gin. One of the quintessential London Dry gins, Tanqueray is known for its crisp, dry style that will stand out in your Gimlet instead of getting lost between the other ingredients. This is thanks in part to Tanqueray’s higher ABV, which allows it to retain a bold flavor profile that adds balance to any cocktail.
The classic London Dry has been distilled since the 1870s, and is produced today at one of Europe’s largest distilleries: Cameron Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland. With strong juniper notes lending character to the London Dry, hints of citrus and additional botanical spices are allowed to waft in and effortlessly perfect every Tanqueray Gimlet.
This article is sponsored by Tanqueray.