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The Perfect Homemade Lemon Cordial To Elevate Your Gimlet

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Who would have thought that a lemony mixture used to prevent disease would eventually turn into a celebrated cocktail mixer? We are talking about the famous lemon cordial, which first originated in the 1860s. It was used by the British Royal Navy to prevent scurvy among its sailors who developed an extreme deficiency of Vitamin C while out at sea. 

On its own, lemon juice was quite unpleasant to ingest but Lauchlin Rose, a shipyard owner in Scotland, figured out how to preserve the juice along with sugar to create a syrup that sailors could easily consume. Originally sold as a “medicine”, the syrup was soon combined with spirits–rum for the sailors and gin for the officers–and the gimlet was created. 

Today, several brands offer lemon cordial syrups, but they are generally made up of high-fructose corn syrup, a far cry from the syrup that Rose had created. Instead of resorting to these artificial sweeteners, why not try your hand at making lemon cordial at home? 

Creating Lemon Cordial From Scratch

Did you know that lemon cordial is the secret ingredient in a gimlet? It is responsible for the citrusy tang that you taste in the drink. For this reason, the ingredients that go into a lemon cordial are paramount as they can affect the taste of the gimlet. The best part about making lemon cordial at home is that you can adjust the sweetness and sourness based on your taste.

To create lemon cordial, you will need four ingredients–fresh lemons, sugar, and water. If possible, make sure that your lemons are organic as the flavour is more vibrant and intense. Citric acid is optional, that is, only if you want to extend the lifespan of your syrup.

To make the cordial, start by thoroughly washing the lemons. Use a zester or a fine grater to extract the zest from six lemons while making sure to avoid the bitter white pith. After zesting, extract the juice from the lemons; six to eight pieces of lemons will yield about 250 ml of juice.

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In a saucepan, combine the lemon zest and juice along with 1 kg of granulated white sugar and 750 ml of boiling water. Whisk the entire mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat off and cover the mixture with plastic wrap, allowing it to cool and develop overnight. 

Once the syrup has cooled down, strain it into airtight glass jars to preserve the mixture. Straining is important to get rid of any pulp or seeds. You can freeze, refrigerate or store the lemon cordial in a cool, dry space and use it when needed.     

Crafting a Gimlet Using Homemade Lemon Cordial

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Now that you have your homemade lemon cordial, it’s time to create a delicious gimlet. For the drink, mix 74 ml of your favourite gin along with 21 ml of lemon cordial and ice cubes in a mixing glass and stir well. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass and serve along with a wedge of lime. A quick tip to help you remember the ratios of gin to lemon cordial–three parts gin to one part lemon cordial or five parts gin to one part lemon cordial.

In the world of cocktails, the gimlet is undoubtedly a timeless, refreshing classic. And what better way to elevate its taste than by infusing it with homemade lemon cordial that is made from fresh lemons. You can always experiment with the tartness of your homemade lemon cordial and with different gin selections like Tanqueray, Gordon’s, and Aviation American Gin. You can then pair the concoction with creative, citrusy garnishes.

But do remember, while Gimlet might be delicious, it is always advisable to drink in moderation.

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