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Cocktail Hour: The Doctor’s Orders Gimlet

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 11, 2016

The Gimlet is perhaps my favourite gin cocktail. This simple serving though, is not without its share of controversy as over time a growing group of ‘cocktail police’ have insisting that the libation must be made in a particular way in order to properly be called a Gimlet. Any other construction they insist is not a proper Gimlet. At the center of this controversy is a lime cordial called Rose’s Lime, which according to those aforementioned protectors of the cocktail must be used in the bar drink’s construction rather than sweetened lime juice. (My own point of view is that although Rose’s Lime certainly shares a history with the Gimlet, it is not an essential agreement, and may be replaced with alternative lime sweeteners at the bartender’s discretion. I feel we should embrace evolution not stagnation.)

I did a bit of research and found that the controversy over the Gimlet stretches back to at least 1953 when a description found in the Raymond Chandler novel, The Long Goodbye, stated:

“a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else”

The fact that this statement made it into Chandler’s novel indicates that bartenders of the time were already arguing over the proper form of this simple cocktail, and it very well could be that this controversial statement has fueled the  belief amongst some cocktail purists that this is the only construction that should be considered.

However; we can go back in even further in time (all the way to 1928) and find a very different point of view put forward by D.B. Wesson in his book, I’ll never be Cured, where his description of the Gimlet is:

 “gin, a spot of lime, and soda.”

Apparently, in this earlier time in the cocktail’s development, the recipe for the Gimlet was more generic and even included soda as the sweetener. I suspect the popularity of Raymond Chandler as a novelist and screenwriter contributed greatly to the false narrative that a proper Gimlet must be constructed with Rose’s Lime; however, when a recipe formulation exists twenty-five years previously, I think assumptions must be reassessed.

Doctor's Orders Gimlet SAM_2386 The truth is that no definitive starting point for the recipe we call the Gimlet is known for certain. It is also true that almost all bar servings evolve over time as better ingredients are discovered, and newer versions of servings are put forward. Even the word ‘cocktail’ has evolved over time from its beginnings when the term referred to a very specific style of bar drink to the present when it now refers to a large variety of bar drinks.

I say, let the evolution continue!

Here is a wonderful Gimlet recipe which uses both Doctor’s Orders Gin and Shadow in the Lake Vodka in conjunction with fresh sweetened Lime Juice. And yes, even though the serving contains both gin and vodka, and lime juice rather than Rose’s Lime Cordial, I will continue to call this serving a Gimlet!

Doctor’s Orders Gimlet

1 oz Doctor’s Orders Gin
1 oz Shadow in the Lake Vodka
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1)
Lime Slice

Add the first four Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a Lime slice
Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

Note: My review for Doctor’s Orders Gin will publish tomorrow!


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