For decades, the gimlet has been an incredibly popular cocktail choice. This cocktail had its heyday in the “roaring” 1920s, and has been a staple of upscale drinking experiences ever since. The traditional recipe calls for gin, lime juice, and soda, but experienced bartenders know that the basic recipe can be tweaked in dozens of ways. The result is a flavorful cocktail that will thrill those who get a chance to experience it. In this guide, we will provide a recipe for the signature orange gimlet, which itself can be modified to suit a variety of tastes.
The Orange Gimlet
Citrus flavors have been a staple of the gimlet since their inception. The traditional juice used to flavor the cocktail is that of the lime. Orange juice adds a unique and summery flavor component to the gimlet cocktail. Certain types of oranges are only available in winter, such as blood oranges. Others are available year-round. Choosing seasonal oranges can add complexity to the cocktail itself, (and depending on the varietal) making it a perfect choice for cozy winter gatherings or raucous summer events. Pairing the citrus flavors with herbs can be another way to help the gimlet stand out. Basil pairs nicely with orange juice, and herbs are often used to make specialty syrups, which are then added to the cocktail to enhance the flavor profile. Quality professional bartending services like The Bartender Company of the San Francisco Bay Area specialize in also making homemade cocktail syrups, sourcing the freshest seasonal ingredients to ensure the utmost in flavor satisfaction.
For this recipe, we use a simple basil syrup. To prepare the syrup, combine the following…
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of fresh, organic, basil leaves
Bring the combination of ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. When the mixture boils, remove from heat and allow to cool. Then, strain the mixture into a glass container where it will be stored until use. Note that it should be stored refrigerated immediately. Bartenders may substitute mint to give the orange gimlet a complex and zesty flavor; preparing the syrup the same way, but using a cup of fresh mint leaves instead of the fresh basil.
For each gimlet, combine:
- 2 oz. of gin (choose top-shelf brands for added appeal)
- ½ oz. fresh-pressed orange juice
- ¼ oz. basil syrup
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, then shake well. Serve the drink in gimlet glasses, then garnish with a half-slice of orange and a small basil leaf (or mint if choosing to use mint syrup).
More substitutions are possible. Some guests prefer a vodka gimlet over one made with gin. Experimentation is key to developing a unique gimlet – try different citrus and herb flavors to determine the best for you and for your guests. Some bartenders will also add a splash of soda to the glass after pouring the individual cocktails. This can add a delicate bubbly nature to the finished cocktail, while decreasing viscosity.
What is a Gimlet Glass?
Savvy bartenders know that the right glassware can bring out the best in any cocktail. For gimlets, the preferred glass is a rocks or old-fashioned glass… A short, wide glass that helps to distribute aromas perfectly. For gimlets that use soda in the ingredients, a highball glass makes a perfect substitute, as its slender shape maintains the bubbles longer.