Friday drinks: gimlet

Happy Friday! Love lime? You’ll love the gimlet – or should we say the gin-let?

The gimlet mixed by director Jeff Stewart. Photo by Jeff Stewart.

The gimlet mixed by director Jeff Stewart. Photo by Jeff Stewart.

Tracking down the etymology of this tantalizingly tart cocktail’s name is a lot more difficult than mixing it. One theory suggests checking out the hardware store for the drink’s namesake. Turns out  a “gimlet” is not only a cocktail but also a drilling tool. As this drink has a particularly penetrating taste, it’s not farfetched to imagine it was named after a drill. I find this backstory a bit blunt and not as romantic as I believe the gimlet deserves, so let’s keep looking, shall we?

English: Gimlet drill bit for use in a brace. ...

Gimlet drill bit made before 1950. Photo courtesy of Emrys2.

Another theory attributes the gimlet to British Royal Navy Surgeon General Sir Thomas D. Gimlette, who served from 1879 to 1913. He may have “prescribed” the limey drink to Royal Navy personnel to combat scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. In fact, the term “limey” was often used to refer to a British sailor due to the Royal Navy’s practice of eating limes and citrus fruits as scurvy prevention. While this gimlet naming theory has the ring of truth to it – I mean the surgeon general’s name was Gimlette – it feels a bit clinical to me.

My favorite proposed origin of the cocktail’s name comes from the telegraph abbreviation “gmlt,” which means “give my love to.” Think of it as early texting. This theory has a sweetness to it. Can’t you just imagine someone saying, “She’s my little gmlt (pronounced “gimlet”)”? And as the telegraph was used to send messages long distance, the drink’s tart taste might remind one of longing. Life just isn’t as sweet without your loved one near. Romantic, right? But I’m a writer. I tend to see heart-wrenching  love stories wherever I look.

An illustration of Phelps' Electro-motor Print...

An illustration of Phelps’ Electro-motor Printing Telegraph, the last and most advanced telegraphy mechanism designed by George May Phelps. Photo in public domain.

Whatever the name’s etymology, you’ll want to give your love to the gimlet – if you like lime. It’s sour-goodness. When our resident mixologist, music video and commercial director Jeff Stewart served up the cocktail, I was intrigued. There are several versions of the gimlet, but Jeff always has a way of tweaking recipes to give a drink a little something extra. In his version, the first taste I noticed was the brisk traditional lime. There is no doubt this is a refreshing cocktail. Then I noted a pleasant, strong gin flavor.

I know there are lots of gin-haters out there. Most people associate gin with bitterness. While gin has a strength to it, it doesn’t have to taste bitter if you pick the right gin for the right cocktail. This gimlet was sour and tart but it wasn’t bitter, which has everything to do with the way Jeff mixed it. And the way he mixed it was pretty brilliant because he gave the gimlet a smooth key lime finish.

To get this key lime finish, Jeff recommends Stirrings Clarified Key Lime cordial. Cocktails Essentials also makes an acceptable substitute. However, many folks use Rose’s lime juice cordial, which will give you a traditional lime flavor. It’ll work, but it’s just not the same experience.

Now the gimlet is usually mixed with vodka, which you can use with Jeff’s recipe below. However, if you want Jeff’s gimlet, he recommends Tanqueray for that full gin flavor. You can also use Plymouth’s for a dryer gimlet.

Wanna give your love to the gimlet? Here’s Jeff’s recipe.

2 1/2 oz. gin (or vodka – try Stoli or Death’s Door for this cocktail)
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. lime juice cordial

Shake over ice for 25-30 seconds and serve in a rocks glass.

Keep your glass half-full. Drink responsibly.

2 thoughts on “Friday drinks: gimlet

  1. Ooooohhh that is my DRINK! You don’t even know the love affair I have with this one. Nice to know the background for the next cocktail party. (Where I will undoubtedly force Jeff to make me his version.)

    • The gimlet is a good one. Yes, get Jeff to make his version for you. The key lime finish makes it exceptional. Hope to see you at a cocktail party soon! Cheers!

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