Classic Gin Gimlet

Get to know the Classic Gimlet, a sweet lime cocktail made with fragrant gin. It’s a classy, elegant sipper that every home bartender should know.

A glass of Gin Gimlet with lime slices and a spoon.

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Classic Gin Gimlet recipe

Easy cocktails are the name of the game here. It’s easy to think that classic cocktails will be difficult to put together or call for lots of unusual ingredients.

And yes — some drinks definitely are. (Looking at you, Ramos Gin Fizz!)

But one classic drink that’s super simple? The gimlet. Made with just three ingredients, this lime and gin cocktail is as easy to sip as it is to make. 

It might just be your new favorite cocktail! Or at the very least, your favorite gin cocktail. (It’s a good one — it’s my brother-in-law’s go-to drink to make and order.)

More gin cocktail recipes: Gin-Gin MuleElderflower French 75Clover ClubGreyhoundTom Collins

Two glasses of Gin Gimlets with lime slices in them.

Why you’ll love this recipe

This easy gimlet recipe is such a great classic cocktail! If you’ve never made one, you are going to love it for a few reasons.

  • It’s a classic cocktail that every home mixologist should know.
  • With just three ingredients, the traditional gimlet is super simple to put together.
  • This sweet citrus cocktail goes from an elegant choice for a dinner party to a casual drink for sipping on your porch.
  • It’s not overly “gin-ny” — the sweetness and acidity of the other ingredients help to balance out the pungent gin.

Gorgeous gimlets are the perfect drink for sipping on a hot summer day. Serve this sweet-tart cocktail at a backyard dinner party, over happy hour at home or while you hang by the pool or beach in the summer months.

A Gin Gimlet cocktail with lime slices and garnishes in a glass.

What is a gimlet?

Gimlets are a simple classic cocktail made with gin, lime juice and simple syrup. It can also be made by combining gin and lime cordial such as Rose’s Lime Cordial or sour mix.

The drink’s roots go back to the 17th century, according to Flaviar, where it had a medicinal purpose. British sailors who suffered from scurvy, a disease caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency, were encouraged to drink citrus juice.

The name ’gimlet’ was the name of the apparatus British navy sailors used to poke small holes in barrels of alcohol aboard the ships. Another story credits the name and the original gimlet recipe to British Royal Navy surgeon Sir Thomas Gimlette, who prescribed his mates scurvy-preventing lime juice to drink with their gin rations.

It’s not the only cocktail with a pharmaceutical background. Similarly, the gin & tonic was born out of a need to treat malaria with tonic water during the 1800s.

The gimlet was featured in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, featuring a recipe of equal parts Burrough’s Plymouth Gin and Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial. 

Today, the gimlet is a staple at bars and has both a number of beloved variations and creative twists on flavors. It’s very customizable and easy to make at home. 

A cocktail glass of Gin Gimlets with a lime wedge and a green napkin.

Tools & glassware

To make a gimlet, you’ll need a basic bar tool set with a jigger, cocktail shaker and a hawthorne strainer. No shaker? You can use a mason jar

Gimlets are usually served neat (meaning without ice) in a martini glass or coupe glass. Both are elegant, stemmed glasses: The martini glass is a V-shaped cocktail glass, and the coupe is rounded.

However, gimlets can also be enjoyed in lowball glasses like a rocks glass, and if so, this gin drink is often served with ice. 

A Gin Gimlet in a glass with a slice of lime.

Ingredients

You need a few simple ingredients to make a great gimlet at home:

  • Gin: Different gins will slightly change the flavor of your gimlet. You can also substitute vodka, if you prefer.
  • Lime juice: Fresh lime juice is the best, sweetest and most flavorful. The bottled concentrate works in a pinch, but it can be a lot more tart than fresh limes — so use it at your own risk.
  • Simple syrup: A regular sugar syrup will work best for the classic gimlet, but you can also experiment with flavored syrups.

Types of gin

I summed this all up in my gin 101 guide, but here’s a quick primer on the different types of gin.

  • London dry is what most people know as gin. It’s light-bodied and the best for G&Ts, Aviations and dry martinis.
  • Plymouth gin is a rich gin that’s only made in Plymouth, England. It is clean, dry and suitable anytime you’d use a London dry.
  • A sweeter, more full-bodied version, Old Tom is best for the Tom Collins, Gin Rickeys and Martinez drinks.
  • Genever is the original gin, less herbal and more crushable. Drink it straight or mix it in a John Collins or a gin fizz.
  • The international style pulls from various botanicals worldwide, bringing more worldly flavors to gin.
  • Sloe gin is a fruity version of gin, traditionally plum-flavored. More often than not, it is a misnomer made with vodka and flavoring.
A glass of Gin Gimlet with a slice of lime.

Best gin for gimlets

Some people love gin, and some don’t. It’s easy to see why: The herbal, almost medicinal taste of the juniper is complex and strong.

But every brand of gin bears a different flavor profile. The one you choose will vastly affect the flavor of your gimlets. Every person will have a different choice for their perfect gin, so take some time to experiment and find yours.

However, the most common type of gin for a London Dry Gin such as Bombay Sapphire.

Here are three gins I am enjoying right now:

  • The classic Hendrick’s Gin is sweet and herbaceous with hints of juniper berries. It’s reliably delicious in lots of gin cocktails.
  • A French gin, Citadelle Gin comes in a stunning blue bottle with a bright, aromatic flavor with a hint of spice.
  • You can even make a color-changing, purple-and-pink gimlet. Empress Gin is a purple gin made with butterfly pea powder. When it meets citrus, it turns from purple to pink.

BeefeaterBombay Sapphire and Bluecoat are a few other popular brands to try in your gimlets. If ordering a gimlet out at a bar, use the opportunity to sample different gin brands to find your favorite.

Variations and substitutions

The gimlet is based on the “sour” type of cocktail. If you switch out a spirit, you wind up with other cocktails. For example, if you use tequila, you get a classic margarita. If you use rum, you get a classic daiquiri.

Or try one of these variations on the classic gimlet recipe:

  • Vodka gimlet: Not a gin fan? Order a vodka gimlet at a bar and no one will bat an eye.
  • French gimlet cocktail: This version features a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur for floral flavor.
  • Basil gimlet cocktail: Use basil simple syrup to make an even more herbaceous version of the gimlet.
  • Bee’s knees: If you swap lemon juice for lime and use a honey syrup, you’ll have another funny-named-yet-delicious classic cocktail.
  • Non-alcoholic gimlet: Use a zero-proof spirit such as Ritual gin alternative to make a virgin gimlet.
A person pouring a gimlet into a glass.

How to make a gimlet

Shaking up a gimlet is a super simple. Here’s what to do:

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add gin, lime juice and simple syrup.

Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass.

For garnish, I used lime slices folded into roses on a cocktail pick for an elegant twist, but you can keep it simple with a lime slice, lime wedge or lime twist.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Use a good gin in your gimlets for the best flavor. Experiment with different brands until you find your favorite high-quality brand.
  • Squeeze some fresh lime juice. It will make a huge difference in flavor!
  • Make your own simple syrup at home to experiment with different flavors. Try rosemary syrup or elderflower syrup.
  • Shake the ingredients well to get them ice-cold. Since it’s served neat, it’s important to get them cold this way. It also helps to invigorate the ingredients to yield a smooth, refreshing drink.
A Gin Gimlet in a glass with lime garnishes.

What to serve with gimlets

Gimlets go incredibly well with all kinds of noshes.

If enjoying at a dinner party, go for savory snacks like a charcuterie board or marinated cheese before dinner.

For a more casual affair, enjoy gimlets with a dip like whipped feta dip or popcorn shrimp.

Try them with citrusy foods like lemon bars or fruity ones like baked peaches for dessert.

FAQ

What glassware should I use for serving a gimlet?

The choice of glassware can affect the presentation of the cocktail. Gimlets are usually served in coupe glasses or martini glasses.

Can you use vodka instead of gin in a gimlet?

Absolutely. Vodka is great substitute for gin in a gimlet. Gin tends to carry strong herbal, floral flavors and vodka can provide a lighter experience for anyone who doesn’t love gin.

Twists on the gimlet

Once you’ve tried a classic gimlet, you’re ready to take things up a notch! Try one of these creative variations.

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

A Gin Gimlet in a glass with lime garnishes.

Classic Gin Gimlet

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Shake up a classic gin gimlet, a sweet cocktail made with gin and lime juice.
5 from 42 votes
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • lime twist, lime wheel or lime wedge for garnish

instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add gin, lime juice and simple syrup.
  • Shake vigorously, then strain into a coupe or martini glass.
  • Garnish with a lime twist, lime wheel or lime wedge.

notes

  • Use a quality gin in your gimlets for the best flavor. Experiment with different brands until you find your favorite.
  • Squeeze some fresh lime juice. It will make a huge difference in flavor. Bottled lime juice tends to be more sour than fresh lime juice. 
  • Make your own simple syrups at home to experiment with different flavors. 
  • Shake the ingredients well to get them ice-cold. Since it’s served neat, getting the drink cold this way is essential. It also helps to invigorate the ingredients to yield a smooth, refreshing drink.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 4ounces Calories: 214kcal Carbohydrates: 23g Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.02g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 18mg Potassium: 52mg Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 21g Vitamin A: 14IU Vitamin C: 9mg Calcium: 8mg Iron: 1mg
did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #feastandwestrecipes!

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