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