Make a Gimlet Before It's Too Late
By Daniel Casto
It’s true, kids: If you don’t use it, you lose it. The ability to touch your toes, youthful optimism, and manageable hangovers all wane with the passing of each season. So does citrus.
Though available year-round, lemons, limes, and the like are just as seasonal as any other fruit, and the cold-weather window to the sweet spot of the sour stuff is closing fast. Taking advantage of your youth means taking risks. Taking advantage of your citrus means making a Gimlet, like yesterday.
A Gimlet, at its core, is a simple gin-based sour. Sometimes its sweet and tart components are combined in the form of a cordial; sometimes they’re not. The benefit of a cordial is that it typically begins with an oleo saccharum (a maceration of citrus skin and sugar), that extracts all of the bright, tangy citrus oils for a little additional pep in the step; but really, who cares! Nobody does this for other basic sours, and while cordials can be extremely flavorful, they also take time, and make things sticky. One (easy, mess-free) way to approximate a cordial is to throw the spent shell of a freshly juiced lime into the mixing tin with all of the ingredients, and shake hard enough to beat it up a bit (a common trick in tiki drinks). For this recipe, that’s good enough.
Beyond the lime shell, this iteration of the Gimlet uses fresh lime juice (obviously) and agave (not so obviously). Besides being trendy, kosher, and supposedly a little less bad for you, agave really tastes like something, and lends a silky mouthfeel to an otherwise piquant mix. (For this recipe, you’ll want to dilute two parts agave with one part water to make it easier to pour and generally deal with.)
The type of gin you use is really up to personal preference/budget/desired degree of historical accuracy. Plymouth and Plymouth Navy Strength are delicious, and have some fun, Gimlet-adjacent history, but they’re also a pretty pricey choice for a drink that tastes like really fancy limeade. Tanqueray and Ford’s have good amounts of spice that make them feel brisk and not too springy, and Beefeater is an unassailable overall workhorse.
From here, there are a number of things you can do to amp up the fresh-factor. At my bar we add a touch of Manzanilla sherry and fresh lime leaves; but basil, mint, or bitters are all nice additions and addendums. (If you’d like to expand your repertoire—and ingredient count—check out the bonus beverage below.)
The world of citrus is only your oyster for a little while longer. Drink a Gimlet while you’re young.
Really Good Gimlet:
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¾ ounce agave syrup (2:1)
- Spent lime shell (Editor’s note: Even though the lime juice and shell are listed separately, I am counting the entire lime as one ingredient—Claire)
Combine ingredients in mixing tin, add cracked or cubed ice and shake (HARD). Strain through a fine mesh sieve into coupe.
Long Time Listener (for bonus points):
- 1 1/2 ounces Beefeater gin
- ½ ounce Manzanilla Sherry
- 1 ounce lime juice
- ¾ ounce agave syrup (2:1)
- 3-4 lime leaves
Combine ingredients in mixing tin, add cracked or cubed ice and shake (HARD). Fine strain into coupe. Garnish with grated nutmeg.