The Gimlet, a timeless, elegant, and understated beverage, unites traditional gin with lime juice and water, whether still or sparkling, blended harmoniously to craft a delightful concoction.
The term "gimlet" may evoke thoughts of a small metal tool, but in the world of cocktails, it is reminiscent of the briny air and wood-laden decks of 19th-century British Royal Navy vessels. Gin, the preferred drink of sailors, wasn't just a beverage but a steadfast companion during extended sea journeys.
During that era, scurvy, a peril brought on by a drastic deficiency of Vitamin C, was rampant in maritime circles. Sir Thomas Gimlette, a resourceful Royal Navy surgeon, stepped in. Harnessing the widespread appeal of gin, he recommended a hearty blend of lime juice and the sailors' beloved gin as a remedy. The recipe persisted even after the scurvy threat had faded into history, and the cocktail earned the fitting moniker "the gimlet," a tribute to its innovative maker.
Some contend that this libation acquired its name from the hand tool, also known as a "gimlet," utilised to bore into barrels of spirits on Navy ships. Etymology notwithstanding, this simple drink has evolved from its origins as medicinal for sailors to becoming a popular choice for the general public, with its rise further propelled by its mention in an influential crime novel.
The Gimlet gained further global fame in 1953 with the publication of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye. In this influential crime novel, the character Terry Lennox introduces Philip Marlowe to the iconic cocktail, further elevating its status.
To delve into crafting the perfect gimlet, it's essential to grasp the fundamental ingredient of the drink — gin. In the realm of gin, two mainstays, Tanqueray and Gordon's, offer unique experiences. Tanqueray, celebrated for its distinct and aromatic character, and Gordon's, esteemed for its smooth personality, provide the foundations for creating a gimlet masterpiece.
A 1928 reference notes "gin, a hint of lemon and soda," while Chandler's description in the same era was "a real gimlet is half gin and half lime juice and nothing else," aligning with the proportions recommended by the Savoy Cocktail Book dated 1930.
Tanqueray No. 10 Gin offers a refreshing and citrusy profile with a smooth finish. The flavour profile includes notes of grapefruit, orange, and lime, complemented by hints of juniper, chamomile, and coriander. The palate experience is clean and crisp, featuring a subtle sweetness that harmonises with the botanical bitterness.
The modern interpretation of the Gimlet, rooted in its seafaring origins, allows for diverse variations. While some adhere to simplicity, others choose to enhance it with bitters or homemade juices, leaving ample room for personal preference in crafting this timeless cocktail.
A crucial constant in this cocktail is Rose’s Lime Cordial. Developed in 1867 for the preservation of lime juice, it was the pioneer fruit cordial and continues to be the designated mixer for the Gimlet for those who prefer not to prepare their own lime juice.
As a quintessential London Dry gin, Tanqueray is celebrated for its invigorating and dry profile, ensuring it holds its own in the concoction rather than fading into the background amidst other ingredients.
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker, and fill it up with ice.
Shake well and double strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with a lime wheel.