Gimlet (cocktail)

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A vodka gimlet with mint
Base spirit
ServedStraight up: chilled, without ice
Standard garnishLime
Standard drinkware
Cocktail glass
Commonly used ingredients
  • Two to four parts gin
  • One part sweetened lime juice
PreparationMix and serve. Garnish with a slice of lime

The gimlet (/ˈɡɪmlət/) is a cocktail made of gin and lime cordial. A 1928 description of the drink was: gin, and a spot of lime.[1] A description in the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel The Long Goodbye stated that "a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's lime juice and nothing else."[2] This is in line with the proportions suggested by The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), which specifies one half gin and one half lime juice.[3] However, modern tastes are less sweet, and generally provide for up to four parts gin to one part lime cordial.[4]

The derivation of the name of the cocktail is contested. It may be named after the tool for drilling small holes (alluding to its "piercing" effect on the drinker) or after the surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette (1857–1943), who is said to have first added lime cordial to gin to help combat the ravages of scurvy on long voyages.


The word "gimlet" used in this sense is first attested in 1928. The most obvious derivation is from the tool for drilling small holes, a word also used figuratively to describe something as sharp or piercing. Thus, the cocktail may have been named for its "penetrating" effects on the drinker.[5]

Another theory is that the drink was named after the Royal Navy surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette (27 November 1857[6] – 4 October 1943[7]), who allegedly introduced this drink as a means of inducing his messmates to take lime juice as an anti-scurvy medication.[8] However, this association is not mentioned in his obituary notice in the BMJ,[9] The Times (6 October 1943), or his entry in Who Was Who 1941–1950.


A variant of the cocktail, the vodka gimlet, replaces gin with vodka. The Schumann's Gimlet adds lemon juice and lime juice to the Gin.[10] The Pimmlet substitutes 2 parts Pimm's No. 1 Cup to 1 part London Dry Gin.[citation needed]

A popular variation, the French gimlet, includes elderflower liqueur in lieu of simple syrup.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ D. B. Wesson, I'll Never Be Cured III
  2. ^ Chandler, Raymond (August 1992) [1953]. The Long Goodbye. Vintage Books. p. 19. ISBN 0-394-75768-8.
  3. ^ Craddock, Harry (1930). The Savoy Cocktail Book.
  4. ^ PAT MUIR (April 28, 2022). "On the Bar: A gimlet isn't as good as a martini, but made correctly it's still a fine drink". Yakima Herald-Republic.
  5. ^ "gimlet". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  6. ^ National Archives
  7. ^ British Medical Journal, 23 Oct 1943, p. 530
  8. ^ Covey Crump, a 1955 dictionary of Royal Navy slang by Commander A.T.L. Covey-Crump, RN, a former Naval Assistant to the Chief of Naval Information. Archived December 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Deaths In The Services: Sir Thomas Gimlette KCB (1857-1943)". British Medical Journal. 2 (4320): 530. 23 October 1943. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4320.530. PMC 2285216.
  10. ^ "Gimlet (Schumann's Recipe)". Difford's Guide. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  11. ^ Overheiser, Sonja (2020-02-27). "French Gimlet". A Couple Cooks. Retrieved 2023-07-01.