You might not know it yet, but gimlets are easy. And once you know how to make a gimlet, you can make a lot of great cocktails (like a daiquiri, which is pretty much a rum gimlet) using the same basic formula. Traditionally, gimlets are made with gin, but if you prefer yours with vodka, go for it. It’ll be delicious either way. Just keep in mind that fresh lime juice is key. Don’t use something from a bottle. That’s sort of like replacing steak with beef jerky.
Let’s talk through the basic gimlet first, followed by two variations: the Bees Knees, and the Southside.
How It Tastes: Crisp, Tart, Floral
Coupe or martini glass
.75 ounce lime juice
.75 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces gin or vodka
Step One: Simple Syrup
The first thing you need is some simple syrup. This is just a 50:50 water-to-sugar ratio, and you can make however much you want (as long as it’s at least .75 oz). Just take your sugar, pour it into an equivalent amount of hot water, and stir until you can’t see any individual grains. 30 seconds should be good. Next, set your syrup aside and let it cool.
Step Two: Juice
Lemons and limes are the most important cocktail ingredients to stock at your house. Yes, we’re going off on a tangent, but so many drinks require lemon or lime juice, and if you heed our advice, all of your friends will think you’re cool and smart. Now, juice a whole lime. It should give you roughly 1 ounce, which is just slightly more than you need for a single gimlet.
Step Three: Booze
Take .75 ounces of simple syrup and .75 ounces of lime juice, pour them in your cocktail shaker, and add 2 ounces of your gin or vodka. Top with ice, roughly one large handful or eight good-sized cubes.
Step Four: Shake And Serve
Put the top on your shaker, and make sure it’s secure. Now, give your ingredients a vigorous shake. It should be loud and cathartic, and if you have a dog, it should start barking at you. Keep this up for about 12 seconds. (Really, the shake time depends on the size of ice cubes, but let’s assume yours are standard.) Done? Great. Your shaker should feel ice cold. Now strain your gimlet into a coup, a martini glass, or a rocks glass (with ice). And if you want extra credit, chill your glass in the freezer beforehand.
Before we discuss variations, you should know that you can dress up a gimlet with any number of things. The following are all excellent choices that will make you seem like a MacArthur-level genius.
- Snap Peas
Just add any one of these things to your shaker before Step No. 4 (the shaking step), and use a fine strainer to catch any debris.
For a Bees Knees (great name, by the way), you’re going to want to swap out your lime juice for .75 ounces of lemon juice and your simple syrup for half an ounce of honey syrup. Why honey syrup? Because honey isn’t going to dissolve in your cocktail otherwise. In order to make honey syrup, use equal parts honey and hot water, and stir until dissolved.
- Rocks glass
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 2 ounces gin
Prepare this just like you would a gimlet - but instead of using a coupe or martini glass, pour your Bees Knees over ice in a rocks glass. One big cube is ideal, but it’s still perfectly great with a bunch of small cubes. No garnish necessary.
Most people know what a gimlet is. But ask 100 strangers how to make a Southside, and maybe only one of those people will say, “Yeah, it’s pretty much a lemon gimlet with mint.” It’s important that you stay away from this person. Cocktails are your thing. Anyway, here’s how to make one.
- Coupe or martini glass
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- Approximately 5 mint leaves
- 2 ounces gin
Make this just like you would a gimlet, but substitute your lime juice for lemon juice, and throw your mint leaves in the shaker before you give everything a shake. Serve in a coupe or martini. No garnish necessary.