The scurvy-preventing Gin Sour of the 19th century.

gimlet cocktail

Essentially a Gin Sour made with lime juice, legend has it that the Gimlet was created in the mid-19th century to encourage Royal Navy sailors to consume their rations of scurvy-preventing lime juice. The name? Possibly a reference to Thomas Desmond Gimlette, a naval medical officer who served during that era. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a syrup of sugar and lime juice, was invented around the same time to preserve lime juice during long bouts at sea; fundamentalist versions of the drink still call for it. The Rose’s of today, however, is a different animal, with high-fructose corn syrup and additives—stuff that wouldn’t make it past the door of any self-respecting craft cocktail bar. The recipe below skews secular, interpreting lime cordial as a mix of fresh lime juice and sugar.


Serving: 1

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1, sugar:water)

Garnish: lime wheel

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake until chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Editor's Note

Before fresh juice was standard in cocktails, Rose’s Lime Cordial was the traditional substitute for simple syrup and lime juice. Some still insist that a gimlet is not a gimlet without Rose’s, but we prefer to use fresh citrus whenever possible.

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(n.) Gin’s legal definition requires it to be a neutral grain spirit flavored with juniper berries and proprietary blends of botanicals and then bottled at over 80 proof. Common botanical additions include citrus peel, coriander, cinnamon bark, angelica root, cardamom and a slate of others. First created in the 17th century as a Dutch medicinal tonic, gin’s [...] More A-Z →