What is a Gimlet?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A gimlet is a type of alcoholic cocktail that is made with gin and lime juice. Because the drink only has a few ingredients, it is easy to make and some people enjoy it as a favorite cocktail to drink at home. In some cases, this drink is made with a splash of soda water, but many bartenders and gimlet connoisseurs agree that the drink should be made with lime, gin, and perhaps a lime garnish, but nothing else.

Vodka, which can be used to make a gimlet.
Vodka, which can be used to make a gimlet.

The kind of lime juice and the kind of gin that are used depend on the drinker's preference. Types of gin vary quite a bit in terms of their flavor, as well as in terms of their price. As such, people choose the gin for their gimlet based both on personal taste and budget.

Soda water, which can be used to make a gimlet.
Soda water, which can be used to make a gimlet.

The type of lime juice that is used in a gimlet may be fresh lime juice or bottled lime juice. In many cases, people prefer to use a sweetened lime juice. For those who prefer a less sweet drink, sweetened lime juice is avoided or is cut with fresh or unsweetened lime juice. Instead of using a bottled pre-sweetened lime juice, some people prefer to mix their own freshly squeezed lime juice with simple syrup. Simple syrup is just sugar that has been dissolved into water to make a basic sweet syrup that is used in all kinds of cocktails and non-alcoholic cold beverages such as iced coffees.

A traditional gimlet is made with gin.
A traditional gimlet is made with gin.

There are some people who do not enjoy the taste of gin and therefore drink gimlets made with vodka. A vodka gimlet is served much in the same way that a gin gimlet is served, the only difference, of course, being the type of alcohol that is used. Much as with a gin gimlet, the type of vodka that is used and the qualities of the lime juice that are mixed into the cocktail are entirely based on personal preference and budget.

It is believed that the gimlet was invented some time in the early 20th century, probably in the 1920s. There are varying stories and theories about who invented the drink and why, but it soon became a popular alcoholic beverage in this era. Since then it has gone in and out of fashion among cocktail connoisseurs and on the bar menus at cocktail bars. However, the basic recipe and the basic variations, as described above, do not seem to have changed since the gimlet first came into being about one hundred years ago.

Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages may lead to high blood pressure.
Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages may lead to high blood pressure.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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