|photo: T.J McLachlan|
"Will you have lime juice or lemon squash?" Macomber asked.
"I'll have a gimlet," Robert Wilson told him.
"I'll have a gimlet, too. I need something," Macomber's wife said.
"I suppose it's the thing to do," Macomber agreed. "Tell him to make three gimlets."
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Ernest Hemingway (1936)
"I'll have a gimlet, too. I need something." For some reason, that sentiment is a wonderful way to approach this fine cocktail. The Gimlet - traditionally a Gin and Lime Juice cocktail, does not seem like a drink that packs a punch, or would be a fitting reprieve from a life-changing lion hunting experience, but do not kid yourself - it is. And its name may be an indicator to its strength. There are two main historical references for the name, Gimlet.
First, and seemingly the most obvious reference, is to the hand tool used to drill small holes, named the gimlet. This tool is used for drilling small holes in wood without splitting the wood. Any tool that works like this but is larger is usually referred to as an auger. The name gimlet, here, could be referring to the sharp, penetrating and piercing effect the Gimlet has on the person enjoying it.
The second reference is to Surgeon General Sir Thomas D. Gimlette, who served in the British Royal Navy from 1879 to 1913. It is said that he introducted this drink as a means for those around him to prevent scurvy by drinking lime juice (The history and relationship between Gin and remedial activity is long and entwined, and probably deserving of its own post).
Whatever the history, The Gimlet is a classic, and one that is open to interpretation. At The Volstead Act Craft Cocktail Service, we were happy to tackle Jeffrey Morgenthaler's variation of the Gimlet, which he developed in Eugene, Oregon - The Richmond Gimlet. You can read Jeffrey's posting on it at his website: Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
The recipe for the Richmond Gimlet goes as follows: 2 oz Tanqueray No. 10 gin, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 1 oz simple syrup, large sprig mint. We decided to mix things up just a touch more and did a cucumber-infused simple syrup, which elevated the refreshing nature of this cocktail.
At our first gig, this was the drink of the night. We were clapping mint like crazy. No doubt the folks at the party appreciated the balance of flavours (mint, cucumber, lime and Gin are a great combination) and no doubt a few felt the piercing effects of the Richmond Gimlet!