“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else.” – Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
Well, Chandler is a hell of writer, but not, apparently, much of a bartender. This is how I was introduced to the gimlet, and for several years I made it this way. But now I know better.
NEVER USE ANYTHING BUT FRESH-SQUEEZED CITRUS JUICE IN YOUR COCKTAILS.
Not Rose’s. Not that stuff in the little plastic lime or lemon. Not anything out of a bottle or can. Fresh-squeezed. This is cardinal rule #1. Seriously, if you have any of that stuff, throw it away now.
Also, gimlets are made with gin. Not vodka. This part, Chandler had right, but ask for a gimlet at a bar today and you’re just as likely to get vodka. Vodka is, for the most part, not to be used in cocktails, with some legitimate exceptions. Once again, I refer you to Ted Haigh‘s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. He gives an excellent rundown on the history of how vodka came to be so prevalent, and why it sucks.
But what kind of gin? Well, this is an exciting time around the household. We recently found out that Tanqueray’s Malacca Gin has been reissued after more than a decade of discontinuation. In fact, we stumbled across it at a liquor store. I fell to my knees when I saw it, in utter disbelief that a store could still have it on the shelf after all this time. (Katie thought I’d had a stroke – she hadn’t seen it yet.) I soon realized it was a reissue, but the excitement was no less palpable. (Read more about Malacca here; buy it here.)
Malacca is a fruitier, more floral gin than the standard London dry gin. And i find it to be the perfect gin for the gimlet, although I don’t use it very often otherwise. So here is the recipe:
2 oz. Tanqueray Malacca Gin
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup (make your own – dissolve a cup of sugar in a cup of boiling water; store in the refrigerator)
Combine ingredients in a shaker; add several ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
This drink is actually quite similar to a daiquiri, but with gin instead of rum. Ideally you want to capture a good balance of tartness and sweetness. Feel free to play around with the amount of simple syrup to suit your taste. You could probably go as low as 1/4 oz. or as high as 3/4 oz. depending on how sweet you like your drinks. Five livers out of five. This is one of my old standards, not something new (we’ll get back to those in our next post). But it’s a good simple drink to have in your repertoire, a good way to recognize the virtues of fresh-squeezed juice (go ahead and try one with that Rose’s abomination – you’ll see), and a good reason to buy some Tanqueray Malacca. The reissue is a limited edition, so don’t dilly-dally.