In my continuing fight against the ever-present threat of scurvy, I present to you the limiest of cocktails: the gimlet. Many people are under the impression that only sailors and pirates are at risk but don’t be fooled, anyone aboard a ship at sea longer than perishable fruits and vegetables can be stored can be afflicted.
Even those of us who live on land and get plenty of vitamin-C from other sources should be vigilant. You can never be too careful, and it’s my professional duty* to write you a preventative prescription in the form of this deliciously fresh, sweet/tart cocktail.
*I am not a doctor and should not be trusted to give advice on anything other than film-editing (and not even that if I’ve had more than two of these gimlets).
The first recipe for a the basic gimlet appears as early as 1852 (Dr. Goodeve Chuckerbutty’s prescription for curing cholera – gin, sugar, water, lime juice, to be administered every four hours). But it was made famous when a description of the drink appeared in the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel The Long Goodbye. “A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else”.
All due respect to Mr. Chandler, but I’m much less interested in “real” as I am in “real tasty”. To me, a splash of Rose’s will do in a pinch, but I’d much rather have fresh lime. And while we’re at it, a bit of muddled cucumber and fresh mint wouldn’t go amiss. The combination is delightfully balanced and incredibly fresh. It’s like a spa weekend; you get to feel virtuous, even though you’re slurring your words and eating the cucumbers that just came off your eyes.
My favorite gin is Hendrick’s, which is great here because it has cucumber notes, but use whatever gin you like best. Vodka would work as well, though the flavor would be a bit different.
For sweetness we used simple syrup, but you could use light agave syrup, or even superfine sugar. The syrup adds a subtle viscosity to the drink, as well as sweetness.
Note: the basic recipe for simple syrup is as follows; In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. The syrup can be refrigerated in a glass jar for up to 1 month. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
This cucumber and mint gimlet recipe is a bit of a love child of our Concord Grape Gimlet and my other favorite cucumber cocktails (Grapefruit Cucumber Gin Fizz and the Cucumber Martini).
- Peeling the cucumber before muddling avoids any bitterness from the skin.
- If you’re making a big batch for a party, pulse the cucumber and mint in a food processor or blender and then strain though a fine-mesh sieve. You can use that juice to make individual cocktails or mix a large batch (including syrup, lime juice and gin) in a pitcher and serve over ice.
- This cocktail is also delicious served on the rocks in a highball glass.
- 1/4 cup cucumber peeled and roughly chopped
- 4-5 large mint leaves
- 2 oz gin recommended; Hendrick’s
- 1 oz lime juiced (about 1/2 a large lime)
- 1 oz simple syrup or light agave or substitute 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- Club soda optional
- In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber, mint and syrup until the cucumber are pulped.
- Fill the shaker with ice, then pour in the lime juice and gin. Put the lid on your shaker and shake until the cocktail is thoroughly chilled, about 20 seconds.
- Strain the mixture into a martini glass (I like to double strain). Top with club soda, if desired. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a thin slice or 2 of cucumber.