The gimlet is one of the most recognizable and highly-requested drinks on any cocktail list. Although simple in its makeup, the gimlet is hard to beat if you’re looking for a refreshing, well-balanced cocktail. Historically, the gimlet was used throughout the 18th century to prevent scurvy, making it not only delicious but also functional.
What is a Vodka Gimlet?
Traditionally, the gimlet is made with gin and lime juice or lime cordial, with the measurements varying based on who is making it and personal preference. Some people like to add sweetener to a gimlet to cut some sourness, but it’s not necessarily a requirement.
A famous passage in the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel The Long Goodbye, declares that “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice cordial and nothing else.” Gimlet purists will cling to this statement, but gimlets nowadays can be complex and incorporate exotic or unusual flavors to mix things up.
A vodka gimlet is just what it sounds like—a gimlet that uses vodka instead of gin. Using vodka in a gimlet gives the drink a subtler, smoother flavor profile. It’s also an excellent alternative for those who aren’t the biggest fans of gin.
Vodka gimlets made their way into the mainstream during the vodka boom of the 1970s and 1980s. Vodka gimlets became so popular that they dethroned the traditional gin gimlet during this time. Nowadays, gimlet drinkers see the merits of both vodka and gin in this classic cocktail.
How to Make a Vodka Gimlet
To make a vodka gimlet, start with your favorite brand of vodka. The spirit will come forward in this cocktail, so you’ll want to make sure to choose a high-quality vodka for the smoothest vodka gimlet.
A gimlet should be served ice cold. When making the cocktail at home, store your vodka in the freezer to keep it as cold as possible.
If possible, opt for freshly squeezed lime juice in your gimlet. Traditionally, gimlets were made with Lauchlin Rose’s original formula for a lime cordial, now known as Rose’s Lime Juice. However, today’s recipe is a far cry from the original, given that it now contains high-fructose corn syrup and additives that don’t make for the most elegant of cocktails. You can use lime cordial if you really want to, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the natural flavor of fresh lime juice in a gimlet.
You can stop here for a powerful gimlet on the sour side, or try adding some simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) to the mix if you want a sweeter gimlet.
From there, assembling the drink is easy. Simply add your ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake until the drink is well-chilled. Then strain the mix into your favorite cocktail glass—we like a traditional martini glass or a coupe glass—garnish with a lime wheel, and enjoy.
Vodka Gimlet Recipe
How you make a vodka gimlet is ultimately up to you. If you like a more spirit-forward cocktail, you may want to go heavier on the vodka. Use more lime juice and sugar if you want a sweeter or more tart gimlet.
Either way, the following recipe is a good starting point to help you achieve your perfect vodka gimlet:
- 2 ounces vodka
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: lime wheel
While the gimlet is known for its simplicity, you don’t have to stop at just vodka, lime juice and sugar. A gimlet can serve as a base for a variety of supporting flavors like berries, cucumbers or fresh herbs like mint and basil.
If you don’t feel like making a vodka gimlet at home, you can find it at plenty of bars and restaurants throughout New York City. At Fine & Rare, we play up our vodka gimlets by adding fresh blackberries to the equation for a fruitier, darker flavor.
While you’re here, you can indulge in some of our other signature cocktails, including the smoking old fashioned and the Fine & Rare mule.