The Gimlet is a drink well-known and yet still somewhat forgotten. It’s a simple mix of gin and lime cordial - calling specifically for Rose’s Lime Juice - at equal parts of each. Beyond being codified in books like the Savoy Cocktail Book, the recipe was forever-etched into the memories of a generation when the character of Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye said, “A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”
Today you’ll find most home bars stocked with what is likely a very old bottle of Rose’s Lime Juice, but in most cocktail bars that focus on Craft Cocktails, the Rose’s is conspicuously absent. This is because over the years, the formula for Rose’s has changed and it has steadily moved from being the lime cordial of choice for cocktails to, as Paul Clarke of Imbibe Magazine once said, an “anathema to the concept of a quality cocktail.”
This sea-change from fifty-plus years ago has meant that the Gimlet has fallen out of favor in the craft bars. But the Gimlet, at its core, is a seductive and delicious drink. It’s very close to being a gin sour with lime, but Rose’s Lime is a cordial or syrup, not actual lime juice, and that makes a big difference in the drink.
Refusing to associate the Gimlet is something akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. A number of bartenders have taken to adding a little fresh lime juice to brighten the drink a bit. Still others - especially bars with kitchens (like, oh, 320 Main) - have taken to making their own lime cordials.
2 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Housemade Lime Cordial
¼ oz Lime Juice
Combine in a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. At 320 Main, we’ve added Lime Cordial to our list of house-made syrups and tinctures - effectively creating our own take on Rose’s Lime Juice. We combine limes, ginger, sugar, and spices to create a bright and tart concoction that’s incredibly easy to quaff.
Matt “RumDood” Robold is a bartender at 320 Main and, in his spare runs RumDood.com, where he writes about rum, rum cocktails, and rum history.