French Gimlet

Mix up a French Gimlet, the height of sophistication and luxury. Made with gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and a hint of sweetness, this classic cocktail is a must-try.

Two martini glasses with lime slices and a martini shaker.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, Feast + West receives a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are our own. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

French Gimlet cocktail recipe

Classic cocktails are classics for a reason, but the twists are often even better.

With a French Gimlet, this is especially true. Made with gin, lime juice and simple syrup, the Classic Gimlet offers sweet, tart and herbaceous flavors.

The French version adds another layer — floral — thanks to the addition of sweet elderflower liqueur called St. Germain Liqueur. It’s just as much of a classic and it’s absolutely worth knowing.

So put on your best beret, pretend you’re on the streets of Paris and let’s get into this delicious, easy recipe!

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

Why you’ll love this recipe

The French Gimlet recipe is a must-try cocktail. It’s going to be one of your new favorite cocktails because…

  • This chic drink is a classic gin cocktail that every home mixologist should know.
  • With just four ingredients, the traditional gimlet is super simple to put together.
  • It’s not overly “gin-ny” — the sweetness and acidity of the other ingredients help to balance out the pungent gin.

The fabulous French Gimlet is the perfect drink for sipping on a hot summer day. Serve them for happy hour at home or mix them up for Bastille Day.

A person is holding a cocktail with a lime garnish.

What is a gimlet?

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

The drink’s history dates back to the 17th century, according to Flaviar, where it had a medicinal purpose. British soldiers 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 navy soldiers used to open barrels of alcohol aboard the ships. Another story credits 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.

Today, the gimlet is a staple at bars and has a number of beloved variations.

Gimlet vs. French Gimlet

The classic Gimlet is a refreshing cocktail made with lime juice, gin and a sweetener. It’s light and bright, and not too different from a daiquiri or margarita.

The French Gimlet takes the classic cocktail and adds a sweet floral twist thanks to elderflower liqueur. This garden-flavored liqueur adds a sweet and subtle bouquet to the gimlet. You don’t need simple syrup in a French Gimlet; the elderflower liqueur brings enough sweetness.

Either lime gin cocktail works well as an elegant choice for a dinner party but also as a casual drink for sipping on a Friday night.

A lime martini in a glass with a gold garnish.

Tools & glassware

For making gimlets, you’ll want to have a basic bar tool set that comes with a jigger, cocktail shaker and strainer.

Gimlets are typically served neat, which means they don’t have ice. Instead, the ingredients are shaken with ice to invigorate and chill them, then they are strained into a chilled glass.

The glassware is a martini glass or a coupe glass. Both are elegant, stemmed glasses: The martini glass is V-shaped and the coupe is rounded.

However, gimlets can also be enjoyed in lowball glasses like rocks glasses.

Classic Design
Top Choice
Budget Pick
$49.99 ($8.33 / Count)
$34.99 ($8.75 / Count)
$29.99 ($7.50 / Count)
Classic Design
Top Choice
Budget Pick
03/07/2024 07:43 pm GMT
Two martinis with lime and gold garnishes.

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.
  • Elderflower liqueur: St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is the most popular brand, though others are on the market, including Bols, Fiorente and Chase.
  • 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. Plus, if you use fresh, you can pick up an extra one or two for garnishes, such as a lime slice or a piece of lime peel. 
  • Simple syrup: A regular sugar syrup will work best for the classic gimlet, but you can also experiment with flavored syrups. Lavender syrup would add even more luxurious floral flavor here.
Two martini glasses with lime slices and a bottle of gin.

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 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.
Two martini glasses with lime wedges on them.

Best gin for gimlets

Some people adore gin drinks, but many don’t. It’s easy to see why: The herbal, almost medicinal taste of the juniper is complex and robust. The gimlet is a great drink to try if you aren’t so sure about gin, as the other flavors help to balance out the more pungent notes.

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. It’s absolutely perfect for a French Gimlet!
  • 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

No St. Germain? If you don’t have any elderflower liqueur on hand, you can use elderflower syrup instead.

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. A French Gimlet can be made with vodka too.
  • Elderflower Rose Gimlet: This version is a tried-and-true favorite. It’s floral and sweet.
  • Purple gimlet: Use purple gin to make an even more herbaceous version of the gimlet.
  • Non-alcoholic gimlet: Use a zero-proof spirit such as Ritual gin alternative to make a virgin French gimlet. Be sure to use the elderflower syrup I mentioned above.

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

You can also play with adding other flavors. Muddled mint would technically make this a riff on a Southside, and would go really nicely with elderflowers. Add some fresh cucumber too for an Eastside cocktail.

A person pouring a cocktail into a glass.

How to make a French Gimlet

A French Gimlet may look fancy, but this three-ingredient drink is actually quite easy to put together.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add gin, lime juice and elderflower liqueur.

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

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

And if you want to serve it on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass, go for it. Maybe add a floral ice cube for your garnish for a beautiful presentation.

Got extra St. Germain? Use it in one of these elderflower cocktails!

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this elderflower gimlet recipe:

  • Use a quality gin in your gimlets for the best flavor. Experiment with different brands until you find your favorite.
  • While store-bought is totally fine, you won’t regret using fresh-squeezed. It will make a huge difference in flavor!
  • 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.
Two martini glasses with lime wedges and gold garnishes.

What to serve with a French Gimlet

This citrusy French gimlet recipe goes incredibly well with all kinds of noshes. 

If enjoying at a dinner party, go for savory snacks like a charcuterie board or baked brie.

For a more casual affair, enjoy them with some noshes like spinach & artichoke dip before dinner.

For dessert, sip your gimlets alongside with citrusy treats like lemon bars or fruity ones like baked peaches. This lemon elderflower cake would be superb too.

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.

More elderflower recipes

— Did you make this recipe? —

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

Two martini glasses with lime slices and a martini shaker.

French Gimlet

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
The sweet-tart, floral French Gimlet is a delicious classic cocktail for celebrating anything.
5 from 38 votes
Print Save

ingredients

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur
  • 1 ounce lime juice

instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add gin, elderflower liqueur and lime juice.
  • 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.
  • Use fresh lime juice because it will have the best flavor. Bottled lime juice tends to be more sour than fresh lime juice.
  • 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.

recommended products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 3ounces Calories: 176kcal Carbohydrates: 13g Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.02g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 1mg Potassium: 34mg Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 11g Vitamin A: 14IU Vitamin C: 9mg Calcium: 4mg Iron: 0.04mg
did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #feastandwestrecipes!

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

    • Susannah says

      Hey Lynn,

      That’s too bad, it’s a pretty great drink. There’s a “jump to recipe” button at the top of every post, but I think you’ll find if you actually read it that all of the sections are full of helpful tips for making a great drink even better.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!