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From The Long Goodbye To Mad Men, The Gimlet's Many Appearances In Pop Culture

gimlet pop culture

In the list of cocktails that exude timelessness, the Gimlet occupies a far higher place than most concoctions. It owes its enduring symbolic status to its adaptability; mixologists have been experimenting with its ingredients to create different iterations of the delectable drink.  

The Gimlet is also synonymous with elegance and sophistication, qualities that have resulted in the drink landing into the hands of quite a few famous characters in pop culture history. Wherever there is a mystery involved or if the story revolves around a particular era or character archetype, you will invariably find a Gimlet. Let’s explore the intriguing journey of the Gimlet through the history of pop culture.

The Gimlet’s Literary Roots: Raymond Chandler’s ‘The Long Goodbye’

Before the Gimlet entered the cinematic realm, it was popularised by the novelist, screenwriter and crime fiction master, Raymond Thornton Chandler in the book The Long Goodbye. Philip Marlowe, the protagonist and private investigator, finds himself in the midst of the convoluted lives of the rich and powerful in Los Angeles. Worn down from travesties borne out of work, Marlowe’s choice of drink was none other than the Gimlet. 

Interestingly, Marlowe’s character only began consuming Gimlets in the sixth iteration of Chandler’s detective series. Before this, his poison of choice was Bourbon. Chandler made the revision after he discovered the Gimlet aboard the RMS Mauretania, on a trip home from London. He enjoyed the drink so much that it was mentioned 21 times in the book, forever marrying the Gimlet to the private detective’s character.

Moreover, by incorporating the Gimlet in the book, Chandler added a certain sophistication to Marlowe’s character and the story. The sophistication exuded by the Gimlet also attested to Marlowe’s ability to navigate the complexities of his cases with style.    

To recreate Philip Marlowe’s go-to drink, you will need:

59 ml gin

29 ml lime cordial

Here’s how you prepare the drink:

Add the gin and lime cordial to a mixing glass, add ice and stir the mixture well. Then strain it into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. The drink is ready to be savoured.   

The Gimlet in Film Noir

Where there’s a mystery, there’s always a Gimlet. Known for its morally ambiguous characters who are set against dim, shadowy backdrops, no cinematic genre has elevated the Gimlet as film noir has. In movies like The Big Sleep (originally a book by Raymond Chandler) and Out of the Past, the Gimlet is strategically used to add subtle mystery and allure to the characters and narrative of the movie.

To recreate a Gimlet that exudes an alluring quality, you will need:

59 ml gin

22 ml fresh lime juice

14 ml simple syrup

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

A sprig of rosemary and lime wheel (for garnish)

Ice cubes

Here’s how you prepare the drink:

In a cocktail shaker, add the gin, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Gently bruise the sprig of rosemary to release its flavours, and add it to the mixture in the cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes and vigorously shake the mixture for 20 seconds to create a chilled and well-diluted drink. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with fresh ice cubes. Garnish the drink with a sprig of rosemary and lime wheel.

The Gimlet in Mad Men

In the hit television series set in the 1960s era of advertising in Manhattan, Mad Men oozed sophistication from its every pore. In season 1, viewers were introduced to Betty Draper’s love for Gimlets, except that she preferred hers with vodka instead of gin. Set in a world where appearances mattered, the Gimlet was a prop that conveyed refinement and class.

To recreate Betty’s Draper favourite drink, you will need:

59 ml vodka

22 ml lime juice (freshly squeezed)

14 ml simple syrup

Lime wheel for garnish

Here’s how you prepare the drink:

Add the vodka, lime juice and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until the drink is chilled well. Then strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass, and finish off the drink with a lime wheel garnishing.

Be it literature, movies or TV shows, the simple yet sophisticated and elegant Gimlet is here to stay with its straightforward and no-nonsense attitude.


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