Your drink of week – The Gimlet

Normally I’d offer up your drink of the week prior to the weekend, as part of our continuing commitment to ensuring that you have at least one thing to look forward to in the week.  But it’s time for us to maybe face facts here, specifically the facts that are causing the air to be slightly heavier than concrete that has been poured into our lungs.

For example, take a look at the United States!  As might appear to The Predator!  If he were looking down on it from an incredible height, with uncommonly light cloud cover!  Just go with me on this!

Witness the green parts, which are normally associated with leisurely comfort and the warm embrace of nature!  A nature that now seeks to cook you with temperatures in the 80s, as a bare average in the balmy evening.  And before you start thinking equivocating thoughts like how it’s okay, for the most part, because you wouldn’t really want a summer where it didn’t actually bother to be hot throughout most of it (see: last summer), stop and consider this:  How much more difficult was every single thing you did today, because you also had to deal with a little sweat river flowing down your spine?  How did that project meeting go this afternoon?

Colleague of some sort:  I think we should do something impossibly difficult in an incredibly tight timeframe!  I’m not accountable for any of it, so I feel free to pose this as a creative idea!

You:  Wait a second, I’m not sure that’s actually a good–

Sweat river:  Tee hee!  I’m suddenly and heavily flooding right down your backbone!

You:  –I, uh… it’s just that we’ve got a lot on the go right now, and–

Sweat river:  Ha ha!  Right down the back of your pants!

You:  –while it’s great we’ve got a lot of good ideas on the table, uh–

Sweat river:  Wheee! Soaking into the band on your underwear!

You:  …

Colleague of some sort:  Are you okay?


If I sit down I will splash

And it’s like that basically all the time in weather like this:  the physical discomfort; the guilt that you should be appreciating and frolicking, instead of growing outstandingly angry and plotting violent deaths.  While it’s true that eventually you’d have to grow up and maybe not get to play Tetris in a basement for three or four days in a row, does that actually mean you have to miss out on everything that makes the summer awesome?  The laziness that comes so naturally to a steamy climate, the kind of epic lounging around that would make even the chubby great cats at the zoo look at each other and think, “Now that is relaxation”?

We say no.  Just because you have to drink eighteen cups of water and fan your vital areas with file folders all day does not mean the summer weather has to suck, and we are here to help you find ways to enjoy it once again.  There are reasons to come home and be happy for the heat, instead of locking yourself in the darkest recesses of your basement and watching PVRed episodes of shows about gypsy weddings.

One of those reasons, I feel very strongly, is The Gimlet.  A very simple cocktail that can be enjoyed in portions ranging from the modest to the grotesque (yeah!), the Gimlet is the perfect kind of drink for this time of year:  it has a pedigree, it is fabulously easy to make, and tastes incredibly perfect when you are sitting outside watching the clouds turn purple while it is still hotter than hell’s furnace.  And when I say “pedigree”, what I really mean is that it’s old enough that nobody knows where it came from, so you get the bonus of the great story of your choice:

The word “gimlet” used in this sense is first attested in 1928. The most obvious derivation is from the tool for drilling small holes, whose name is also used figuratively to describe something as sharp or piercing. Thus, the cocktail may have been named for its “penetrating” effects on the drinker. Another theory is that the drink was named after British Royal Navy Surgeon General Sir Thomas D. Gimlette, KCB (served 1879 to 1913), who allegedly introduced this drink as a means of inducing his messmates to take lime juice as an anti-scurvy medication… Gmlet is also the abbreviation for “give my love to,” commonly used in the days of the telegraph.) — (Wikipedia)

Your choice of practical anthropology, classic navy-and-drinking history, and even a cute-though-unlikely story about telegraph emoticons!  Who knows, maybe a hundred years from now, someone will be attributing a drink called the Lollipop to “the abbreviation for ‘laugh out loud’ (LOL), commonly used in the days of the internet”!  And most importantly, is there any better time and place to be discussing such matters than over an outstanding drink such as this?

No.  No there isn’t.

So, here is what you need to make a Gimlet:

  1. Limes.  Preferably juicy ones — and the way to tell this is by the heft that they have when you lift them.  There will be bright and shining limes that will try to deceive you, but you want the ones that feel a little heavy and sultry, like they got something to squeeze.
  2. Gin.  We have lots to say about what kind to buy.
  3. A little simple syrup.  I highly recommend spending about half an hour some weekend afternoon making up a great big batch of this, because it takes forever to go bad and has virtually no end of applications.
  4. A glass.  You choose the size, because the proportions are going to be the same no matter what.
  5. Ice and a shaker, because cold is a big part of why this is refreshing and delicious.

If you clicked through to that Wikipedia article, you may have seen that a vodka Gimlet is starting to gain prominence, but let us simply agree that such is heresy and move on right now.  The combination of aromatic gin and tart lime is what makes this such a great beverage; those who are interested in a vodka variant (bless them!) are merely seeking a stronger version of a vodka-soda-with-lime and should be left to their pursuits in peace.

For the rest of us, it should merely be a matter of selecting the preferred gin: either a dry like Gordon’s with a bit more of the juniper flavor, or a premium like Plymouth (which I love with reckless abandon) that provides a smoother, but no less complex, flavor.  Whatever you choose, the magic comes in the proportions — which, unsurprisingly for a drink whose origins are obscured, are a matter of interpretation.  But I personally like the simple matter of 4:1:1, shaken and served in a rocks glass.

So!  Grab your shaker and add:

  • 2 oz. of your favorite, preferred gin
  • 1/2 ounce of simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce of lime juice

Shake generously, and then pour over ice to enjoy to its fullest.

The Gimlet is everything that can redeem these particularly dreadful summer days.  It’s cooling and it’s flavorful, it has so many stories attached to it that you can share one with at least a 60% chance you aren’t repeating yourself.  But most importantly, it’s bright and stimulating after a day when moisture has otherwise been your enemy, from within and without.

It’s hump day, so why not treat yourself!

  • Niki

    Thank you for blessing me with my choice of vodka gimlets back in the day. Egads, I haven’t had one in years. Our drink lately has been El Diablos. Love.

    • Mike

      /searches Google for “el diablo cocktail”

      Good Lord. This is going to be Your Drink of next week.

      • Niki

        Awesome. Another potential convert.

  • Niki

    PS, also because it’s been absolutely gross here the past couple of days in the DC Metro.

  • Marcel

    The drink of choice of my dream-wife Betty Draper.

  • SP

    Aw, yay! Gimlets were my first “grown up” drink, because that was what my dad ordered when he took me to my first cocktail party on Capitol Hill, and so that’s what I ordered. (I was actually too young to drink legally, but…it was Capitol Hill, and the bartender was not foolhardy enough to ask the age of the blonde girl on the arm of an older gentleman who might or might not be a Congressman.)

    Gimlets were also the first drink I attempted to make, except I didn’t know about the simple syrup, so I became enormously frustrated — and enormously drunk — trying to figure out how to combine lime and gin into exactly the right magical proportion that would cause sweetness to happen.

    • Mike

      That kind of what-if-I-just-drank-more experimentation shows real commitment to the craft. Bravo!