Gin Gimlet Cocktail - Recipe & Variations

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 19, 2023

The classic Gin Gimlet cocktail is a mix of lime, gin, and syrup. It's one of those easy-to-make sips that requires only quite basic elements, and you don't need to spend a fortune on ingredients.
Classic Gin Gimlet Cocktail

The elements of the traditional Gin Gimlet recipe were gin and lime cordial, nothing else. But as the art of making cocktails evolved, fresh ingredients were preferred over store-bought cordials. 

In the case of the Gin Gimlet recipe, that meant replacing lime cordial with freshly squeezed lime juice paired with simple syrup. 

But that's not where modern mixology stops. These days, there are many Gimlet variations, and we will introduce some of the most important ones.

Quick Facts Gin Gimlet

  • Method: Shaken
  • Flavor profile: well-balanced, refreshing
  • How to serve it: straight up
  • Best glassware: coupe glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 21%, 19 grams of alcohol per serving
Classic Gin Gimlet Cocktail

Gin Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

A classic Gin cocktail, mixed with lime and sugar.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gin, lime juice, simple syrup
Servings: 1
Calories: 198kcal
Cost: $2.70


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 2 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 0.5 oz Lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup


  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
    2 oz Plymouth Gin, 0.5 oz Lime juice, 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
  • Shake it until the drink is chilled and the outside of the shaker is frosted. 
  • Strain the Gimlet into a chilled coupe glass.
  • Optionally garnish it with a slice of lime.


Serving: 3.25ozCalories: 198kcalCarbohydrates: 11gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 52.5mgSugar: 11gVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommendations for the Modern Gin Gimlet Recipe

Gin, limes, and simple syrup are enough to mix up a Gin Gimlet in a modern way. If you're a fan of boozy cocktails, our recipe of 2 oz gin, 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, and 0.5 oz simple syrup is for you.

This recipe is well-balanced but definitely on the more potent side. If it's too strong for you, increase the amount of lime juice and simple syrup to 1 oz each.

Either way, shake up your cocktail in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice for about 10 seconds. You want your drink properly chilled to get it perfect. 

For lime juice, you should make sure it's freshly squeezed. Yet, there are different possibilities. You could, for instance, consider aging it for a few hours to take off the edge. If you want to read more about this, head to the article about lime juice and its use in cocktails.

Gin Gimlet

The Original Gimlet Recipe

Initially, the Gin Gimlet Cocktail was made with Gin and Rose's lime cordial. The problem with this traditional recipe is that it's way too sweet for the average palate today.

Inventor Harry MacElhone asks in his recipe for a mix of one part gin to one part lime cordial. After stirring with or without ice - depending on personal preference-, his drink was ready to be served. That would turn out very sugary, as you can imagine.

If you want to use the original ingredients but make the drink less sweet, we suggest tweaking the classic Gimlet recipe a bit. 

You can keep the ingredients classic, but change proportions and shake it with plenty of ice to properly chill it. A mix of 2 parts gin to 1 part lime juice will get you a far better drink.

Nevertheless, in modern mixology, lime cordial is extremely rare for a reason. Even with Rose's lime cordial -the original base for the cocktail and widely available in the UK- it doesn't produce the desired tangy and acidic lime taste. 

You will only get that with freshly squeezed limes. And this perception literally screams for a modern take on the original recipe. 

Best Gin for Gin Gimlet Cocktail

The traditional is Plymouth Gin, and that really works excellently. If you're looking for a more affordable version, go with a standard London Dry option like Beefeater Gin. 

If you want to experiment, you can use all kinds of gin, really. The simple recipe of the Gin Gimlet gives a lot of room for all sorts of flavor profiles you can find in the various types of gin.

Important Variations

As already mentioned, there are many variations of the classic Gin Gimlet, ranging from vodka to cucumber or cucumber and basil.

What all of these cocktails have in common is that they're pretty easy to make. So let's have a look at these Gimlet variations.

Vodka Gimlet cocktail with basil

Vodka Gimlet

If you're a fan of vodka -or simply not a big fan of gin- try to make a Gimlet with the popular grain spirit.

Everything you have to do is replace gin with vodka, and you're ready to go. No change in proportions, no additional ingredients. It's as easy as that.

Cucumber Gimlet variation

Cucumber Gimlet

This one is another beautiful variation. Before adding the traditional Gimlet ingredients to your cocktail shaker, muddle a few slices of cucumber in it.

You can add a bit of lime juice to make the muddling a bit easier. Garnished with a slice of cucumber, this Gimlet variation adds a nice and fresh touch to the traditional version.

Cucumber Bsil Gimlet variation

Cucumber & Basil Gimlet

The Cucumber & Basil Gimlet is tweaking the original recipe a bit more.
Mix 1.5 oz of vodka with 0.25 oz lime juice and 1 oz lemonade. Before shaking, muddle two basil leaves together with 2-3 cucumber slices.

Shake the mix with plenty of ice and pour into a chilled glass with ice. Garnish with a basil leaf and a slice of cucumber to complete this Gimlet variant.

Origin of the Gin Gimlet

The actual recipe was first mentioned in writing by Harry MacElhone, a mixology legend. He introduced the Gin Gimlet recipe in his book Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails in 1930. It reached its peak of popularity in the 1980s. But the simple Gin cocktail was invented long before that. 

The first appearance dates back to the 1860s. As with various other cocktails, the British Royal Navy was loosely involved in the birth of the recipe. 

Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette, who served the British Navy from 1879 – 1913, is cited by some as the namesake of the Gimlet. 

For medical purposes, he is said to have ordered to mix spirits with lime juice to make the juice last longer while on the sea. The intent was to prevent scurvy - a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C.

Another possible story about the origin of the Gimlet's name is that the drink was called after a hand tool used to bore into barrels of spirits on Navy ships – a gimlet.

But back to the actual cocktail recipe: In 1867 Mr. Lauchlan Rose, a Scotsman, invented a method to keep lime juice longer: By mixing lime juice with sugar, Rose created the very first lime cordial. -A key ingredient of every classic Gin Gimlet cocktail. This clever product eventually made its way to the British Navy.

As you can imagine, sailors weren't too keen on drinking pure sweetened lime juice. Thus, they continued to mix it with spirits, mostly with gin, unaware that this would become a classic cocktail recipe.

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