Let’s just get one thing straight: A Gin Gimlet is supposed to be made with Rose’s Lime Juice— that famed syrup made from water, high fructose corn syrup, lime juice, sodium metabisulfite, and artificial color. At least, that’s the way it used to be made, the way I first had it, back before using fresh ingredients in bars was what the cool kids did.
And that’s where I ran into some problems. One often-polarizing part of this cocktail renaissance happening right now is the idea that fresh or homemade ingredients make all drinks better. To many it feels plain wrong to put some high-fructose corn syrup in a glass now, but I don’t know if fresh is always better. Personally, I found Gin Gimlets to be pretty delicious with Rose’s. They always had a tart, sour bite that beautifully married icy cold gin and bright, sweet, acidic Rose’s Lime.
Despite my preference, I was one of those bartenders that pushed Gimlets made from fresh lime on my guests in the early 2000s. But, secretly, the drink always dissatisfied me. It lacked that sting of a Gimlet made with Rose’s lime. I spent years tweaking and playing with my recipe, but I never was sold on the allure of the fresh juice Gimlet until I had the good fortune to find myself seated at the bar at Le Lion, in Hamburg, Germany several years ago. The bartender met my companion’s request for a Gimlet with the most perfect, light, sour version made with fresh juice I’d ever had. Fresh was possible.
But, try as I did, I never could quite replicate the version I’d had in Germany when I got back to my bar. Until, that is, I discovered a magical Daiquiri recipe by Simon Difford that struck me with its unconventional proportions. Difford’s Daiquiri has a high-octane punch and sour bite of fresh lime barely touched by sugar because this recipe uses a little more rum than what others call for and because there’s more lime juice than simple syrup. Since discovering it, Difford’s has became my staple Daiquiri. And realizing that a fresh juice Gimlet is nothing more than a Daiquiri with rum swapped out for gin, I set about applying Difford’s proportions to my Gimlet. The result was as delicious as my old Rose’s standby. I had found the key to the recipe I’ve tried to unlock for so long.
· 2½ oz. dry gin (I’ve always been a fan of Tanqueray No. Ten)
· ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
· ½ oz. 2:1 simple syrup
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a thin lime wheel.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
WHY THE DAIQUIRI IS SO IMPORTANT TO BARTENDERS