The Gimlet reclaims its rightful place as master and commander of the summer waves
“A real Gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice, and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”
--Raymond Chandler, THE LONG GOODBYE, 1953
Summer is the season of sailing here in Minnesota, and no cocktail is more steeped in the rich traditions of the bounding main than the Gimlet.
The origins of the Gimlet can be traced to the British navy, of course. The stars aligned in 1867 when Lauchlin Rose patented a method for preserving citrus juice and the Merchant Shipping Act required the Royal and Merchant Navies to provide sailors with a daily ration of lime juice to prevent scurvy. As Mr. Rose’s potion became omnipresent, it likely took a nanosecond for naval doctor Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette, somewhere off the coast of Tunisia, to decide to mix his daily ration of gin with his daily ration of Rose’s.
Perhaps he never would have made it out of the Channel before attempting the concoction. Either way, the important thing is that the Gimlet was born.
We respectfully disagree, however, with Mr. Chandler, and change his prescription to three parts gin, one part fresh lime juice (with a touch of dill simple). The color should match the pale chartreuse of newly sprouted leaves. Pour the gin and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. We mean this. Now is not the time for the well-behaved tick-ticka-tick-ticka-tick foxtrot shake recommended by Nick Charles in “The Thin Man.” With the top tightly in place, position the shaker over your left shoulder and pump furiously back and forth with both hands in a triumphant, hammering motion. At least 20 seconds is essential, as there should be tiny ice chips floating on the surface of the drink. While you shake, hum the chorus to “Rule Britannia” to yourself, and that should be precisely enough time. Strain unadorned (no garnish is necessary…really…especially not a lime wedge, but especially not a filbert) into a martini glass, or over rocks if you prefer, and you’ll have a summertime cocktail as clean and refreshing as sea spray off the starboard bow.
Don your crispest whites, step out onto the main deck with a Gimlet in each hand, and say genuinely witty things to your guests.