The Gimlet cocktail is probably one of the most famous gin cocktails out there, partly due to its versatility, and the confusing number of recipes that can be found. There is little known about its origins, though one story claims it was first consumed in the navy; a British naval surgeon by the name of Gimlette was supposedly trying to convince sailors to consume more lime juice in order to prevent a scurvy outburst. Because he wasn’t succeeding otherwise, the surgeon came up with a gin cocktail that the sailors were more particular to. As for the time of its apparition, it has to have been sometime at the beginning of the 1900, because as early as 1928 we have written recipes, the most popular being that which recommends preparing the Gimlet by using gin, soda, and a spot of lime.
For history and culture buffs, the Gimlet cocktail is what Raymond Chandler’s character, Terry Lennox, consumed. In the novel The Long Goodbye, from 1953, Lennox’ character states that a real Gimlet is made with one part gin and one part Rose’s lime juice. In that respect, for those who are serious about their cocktails, adding soda water to the Gimlet is heresy, and ruins the whole character of the beverage.
Nevertheless, there are so many recipes of Gimlet cocktail out there, that it is difficult to tell which was the original, or which is the best. Even important specialty authors like David A. Embury wrote about this cocktail, which is mentioned in the third edition of his book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. In his version of the recipe, you’re supposed to use two ounces of gin, half an ounce of lime juice, half an ounce of simple syrup, and a slice of lime as garnish.
Some people prefer to drink this cocktail with vodka, so they use it to replace the gin; the result is called a Vodka Gimlet, and the drink is so popular that requesting a “Gimlet” in certain bars will force bartenders to ask whether you prefer vodka or gin. The Gimlet cocktail is so versatile also because its various recipes featured in some of the most important cocktail books; some of them are: The Bartender’s Bible, The New New York Bartender’s Guide, including articles and editorials in newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
The Gimlet cocktail is usually served in a cocktail glass, and garnished with a slice or wedge or lime; you can drink it both straight and on the rocks, and for special variations other types of glasses can be used as well. In some recipes, mint is added, or elderflower, cucumber, and all sorts of other green ingredients.