The Gimlet Cocktail

The Gimlet Cocktail is a classic and so easy to make; combine gin, lime juice, and simple syrup for a delicious before or after dinner beverage.

The Gimlet Cocktail Served Outdoors on a Wooden Tray

As much as I really love making cocktails, especially when friends are coming over, I would be lying if I told you that I bought special fruit and spent a lot of time mixing up something unique on an everyday basis. I like the ‘occasional’ cocktail when I mix something for myself but even then I keep them simple. The Gimlet Cocktail is a favorite; the botanicals of gin mix perfectly with equals amounts of lime juice and sugar…and that’s all it is!

Unlike some other cocktails with a fruit component, it’s not super sweet but a bit bracing and I enjoy that.

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When I decided to add a classic like The Gimlet Cocktail to Friday Cocktails, one of the fun aspects was discovering the history of the drink. Some cocktails have a rich history including names like Hemingway and some are simple accidents that turned out perfectly.

The Gimlet’s history was first recorded in print when Harry MacElhone included the recipe in his ‘ABC’s of Mixing Cocktails’ (1922) as one half Coates Plymouth gin and one half Rose’s Lime Cordial with the  instructions to “Stir and serve in the same glass. Can be iced” and a short note saying it was a popular drink in the Navy.

But 1922 wasn’t the gimlet’s first mention in print. In his memoirs, Admiral Albert Gleaves of the United States Navy mentioned that while on a visit to Tientsin, China in September of 1920, ‘I was served a new drink called a gimlet – a mild affair of gin, lime juice and water.’

English Sailing Vessel

Common thought is that much like the Gin and Tonic came into being when English sailors added gin to tonic in order to make it more palatable when the quinine in tonic was used to prevent malaria, the Gimlet Cocktail may have also originated aboard naval vessels when sailors added lime juice to gin to avoid the dreaded scurvy which came about from a lack of Vitamin C.

Scurvy killed three million sailors in the three hundred years between the end of the 15th century and the end of the 18th century and many ships lost 70% of their men due to it alone. When sailors eventually knew what sorts of things cured scurvy; they realized the value of fresh produce; especially the juice of lemons, limes and oranges. 

Mixing the tart lime juice with gin would seem a foregone conclusion; adding a bit of sweetness once that cocktail took on a life onshore seems inevitalble too.

The Gimlet Cocktail on a Tray with Gin and Limes

The gimlet is actually a small hand drill that is used to drill holes in barrels to release what is inside. That work of piercing something is reflected in the phrase ‘gimlet-eyed’ and this cocktail was also once made with the notion of being a short, sharp drink that was finished more like a shot.

The craft bar-tending craze has seen a shift from the neon green (and high fructose content) of Rose’s Lime Juice go the way of the dinosaur with fresh lime juice and simple syrup taking it’s place. Some purists insist they be made with Rose’s but I’m not that pure…I prefer the fresh juice; I’m like those sailors, I’ve always got some limes on hand!


I used a bottle of Caorunn Gin for this cocktail; it has a unique set of botanicals that I thought would be a great balance to this cocktail including rowan berry, heather, bog myrtle, dandelion and coul blush apple.

Caorunn is a handcrafted and small batch distilled gin from Scotland that uses pure grain spirit, not molasses like most gins, to ensure high quality.

The pure grain spirit is vaporized through their Unique Copper Berry Chamber that was made in the 1920’s, when gin was produced with a slow process to enable enough time to infuse the subtle flavor of the botanicals. Botanicals are spread on trays, allowing the grain spirit vapor to meet the botanicals on a largest possible surface during the infusion process and to pick up the aromas and flavors of the botanicals.

Caorunn draws on centuries of distilling expertise, on the pure Scottish water provided by the surrounding springs and the time-honored Celtic botanicals mentioned above which are characteristic plants of the surrounding hills of Balmenach Distillery.

I am fortunate to be asked to sample a lot of different products and this was a great find; we loved it. The cocktail is easy and refreshing and I bet you’ll love them too!

PIN IT! ‘Gimlet Cocktail’

The Gimlet Cocktail Served Outdoors on a Wooden Tray
The Gimlet Cocktail Served Outdoors on a Wooden Tray

The Gimlet – a Classic Cocktail

A simple preparation combining gin, lime juice, and simple syrup makes for a delicious cocktail in the Gimlet.
5 average from less than 50 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Cocktails, Friday Cocktails, Gin
Cuisine American, british
Servings 1 Cocktail
Calories 210 kcal


  • 2 ½ ounces gin
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Lime twists for garnish


  • Chill a cocktail glass and rim it with a lime wedge.
  • Combine the gin, lime juice and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake vigorously until the shaker is ice cold. Pour into the chilled glass and garnish with a lime twist.


Nutrition Facts
The Gimlet – a Classic Cocktail
Serving Size
1 Cocktail
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword cocktail, gimlet, gin, lemon
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  1. I love Gimlets but have never tried one with gin. I’ve always had vodka gimlets. I like them with Rose’s but when I have fresh limes in the house it’s a treat to have a Gimlet.
    The recipe is so simple, yet tasty. I’ll definitely try one with gin next time I make one.

  2. One of my favorite summer cocktails! I’m a fan of Rose’s in this drink — its kinda strange taste and weird hue actually works. Although fresh lime is, well, fresh lime. Love the history about this drink! My favorite story is apparently there was a Dr. Gimlette who was a surgeon in the British Royal Navy in the 19th century, and he is credited (by some accounts) with adding lime to the the sailor’s daily booze ration. As you mention, it helps fight scurvy. I always worry about scurvy, particularly in the summer, so this drink is a must! 😉

    1. If I had been a betting woman John I would have guessed you would say that! I’ve had them both ways and I know some love them with Rose’s but I just don’t like keeping a fresh bottle on hand when I always have lime and simple syrup in the house. ALWAYS. So, over time this is what I’ve come to prefer and the different taste with Rose’s is now off for me! 🙂

  3. This is my sort of cocktail– short ingredient list and a simple preparation. I even have the ingredients here at home to give this a try. Is it 5 o’clock yet?? I guess I’ll have to wait a few hours. : )

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