The Perfect Garnish For A Classic Gimlet Cocktail

Tart with lime juice, sweetened with sugar, and herbaceous with gin, a proper gimlet cocktail is a simple and refreshing drink that delights the senses. From its origins as a way to prevent the terrible illness of scurvy, the gimlet remains a popular cocktail today, partly thanks to its simplicity, and partly due to the recipe's ability to adapt to modern preferences. With ingredients readily found in the market, such as mint and rosemary, you can also add extra garnishes to take your gimlet to new heights.

There are many variations of the gimlet, because the drink is so easy to modify. But to create a classic, modern-day gimlet, simply mix lime juice, simple syrup, and gin in a beaker filled with ice and stir well. Serve on the rocks or straight up, in either a martini glass or champagne goblet. For the perfect garnish, use a lime wedge or a sprig of herb, such as mint or rosemary, as their pungent aromas and flavor profiles complement the herbal character of gin beautifully.

Gimlet cocktails and limes

Like many things that originated in the 17th century, the British Empire played a role in the invention of the gimlet cocktail. At that time, as the British expanded their imperial domains through their navy, seamen often suffered from a horrible and disfiguring disease called scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C. Although the concept of vitamins was unknown at the time, military doctors observed that consuming citrus fruits could prevent the devastating effects of scurvy.

By the 19th century, lime juice had become a standard issue to sailors. In fact, British sailors consumed so much lime that they were referred to as "limeys." Originally, the juice from the limes was mixed with rum in order to preserve the freshness of lime during long voyages. However, Lauchlin Rose, a Scottish merchant, invented a process to preserve lime juice with sugar instead, creating what we know today as Rose's Lime Cordial. The lime cordial could be mixed with gin, creating the gimlet cocktail we know today.

The original formula for a gimlet consisted of equal parts gin and lime cordial. However, like the martini, the gimlet became less sweet and more "dry" as time went on. As fresh limes became increasingly accessible, fresh lime juice and simple syrup — made with sugar and water — replaced lime cordial as the primary ingredients, in addition to gin. Lime remains a delightful garnish for a classic gimlet cocktail.

Gimlet variations to try

The gimlet's simplicity has allowed mixologists to treat the cocktail as a blank canvas, creating many different variations. For example, a common variation is the vodka gimlet, which replaces gin with vodka. While vodka lacks the herbal quality of gin, this neutral spirit emphasizes the flavor of the lime juice. A rosemary garnish would add the perfect hint of earthiness.

The gimlet can also be transformed by selecting a different type of gin or by adding new elements to the cocktail. For instance, muddling some cucumber slices with the syrup before adding Hendrick's gin would amplify the botanical accents of that particular brand of gin.

If you added elderflower liqueur to a standard gimlet, you'd create a French gimlet. For fans of mint, muddling mint leaves before adding the rest of the ingredients into the shaker would result in a South Side cocktail. This variation is best enjoyed garnished with a sprig of fresh mint, making it a perfect way to cool down during hot weather.