A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 29, 2009
Gimlet (cocktail)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Gimlet (cocktail)
The gimlet is a cocktail typically made of gin or vodka and lime juice. A 1928 description of the drink was: “gin, a spot of lime, and soda” (D. B. Wesson, I’ll never be Cured III). A 1953 description was: “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else” (Terry Lennox in Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye).

The Savoy Cocktail Book (1999 edition, first published in 1930) contains the following recipe:
1/2 Burrough’s Plymouth Gin
1/2 Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial
Stir, and serve in the same glass. Can be iced if desired.

The Savoy Cocktail Book also has a recipe for the “Gimblet Cocktail”:
1/4 Lime Juice
3/4 Dry Gin
Shake well and strain into medium size glass; fill up with soda water

According to the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition of August 4, 2006, a gimlet consists of the following:
2 oz. gin or Vodka
1/4 to 1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lime juice
Garnish with a lime

The Bartender’s Bible by Gary Regan lists the recipe as:
2 oz. gin
1/2 ounce Rose’s lime juice
Garnish with lime wedge
Regan also states, “... since the Rose’s product has such a long and impressive history (which predates the gimlet), I am inclined to think that Rose’s was the ingredient that invented the drink”.

The New New York Bartender’s Guide by Sally Ann Berk lists the ratio of gin to Rose’s lime juice as 3:1 instead of 4:1 as in the above recipes.

For the vodka gimlet, replace gin with vodka. As of the 1990s, maybe earlier, bartenders often answer requests for the gimlet with a vodka gimlet. Vodka gimlets were popularized by renowned proposition gambler and raconteur “Hong Kong” Freddie Wong, whose spirit of choice is quadruple-distilled Belvedere. As the gimlet was director Edward D. Wood, Jr.’s favorite cocktail, he often used the pseudonyms “Telmig Akdov” or “Akdov Telmig” (Vodka Gimlet spelled backwards) for his adult novels.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: 4gimlet
Function: noun
Etymology: probably from 1gimlet
Date: 1928
: a drink consisting of sweetened lime juice and gin or vodka and sometimes carbonated or plain water

(Oxford English Dictionary)
gimlet, n.
A cocktail, usu. consisting of gin and lime-juice.
1928 D. B. WESSON I’ll never be Cured III. 73 The ‘Gimlet’ we were introduced to..at the Golf Club: and it proved to be the well and flavorably known ricky, but described as ‘gin, a spot of lime, and soda’.
1937 N. COWARD Present Indicative IX. 378 Standing about in the ward-room accepting with gracious melancholy ‘gimlet’ after ‘gimlet’.
1953 R. CHANDLER Long Good-Bye (1959) iii. 18 A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else.

Google Books
South Africa and the Transvaal War
By Louis Creswicke
Published by T. C. & E. C. Jack
1900
Pg. 122:
Farewell drinks — beer, gin and lime-juice, green chartreuse, tea — were disposed of, and then from five till midnight the steady march onwards was pursued.

Google Books
Down Among Men
By Will Levington Comfort
New York, NY: George H. Doran Company
1914
Pg. 91:
“Give me a little touch of that gin and lime juice.”

Google Books
March 1918, State Service (NY), pg. 27, col. 2:
In the good old summer time, the good old summer time
When highbrows gather ‘round the jug
To gulp their gin and lime.
The needs of state will have to wait,
To hurry up would be crime;
For laws will last, but ice melts fast
In the good old summer time.

Google Books
Young China and New Japan
By Ada Elizabeth Jones Chesterton
Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company
1933
Pg. 44:
Singapore has a marvellous “gimlet,” compound of gin, lime-juice, water, and pounded ice, and Bunny found joy in a “Number Dua,” a pleasant mixture with a Malayan taste.

Google Books
With Naked Foot
By Emily Hahn
Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Company
1934
Pg. 87:
(A gimlet is made of gin and bottled lime juice. It is the tipple of Hong Kong, as a gin sling is of Singapore.)

Google Books
Land of the White Parasol and the Million Elephants:
A Journey Through the Jungles of Indo-China

By Sidney Jennings Legendre
New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
1936
Pg. 9:
It was our custom to sit in the Cafe Metropole and drink “gimlets” (gin and lime juice served in a champagne glass) and watch “the news of the day” flashed…

Google Books
We Cover the World
By Eugene Lyons
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company
1937
Pg. 133:
Drinking a cool gimlet (gin and lime-juice) on its veranda I watched the younger officers play tennis with some ..
(Gymkhana Club—ed.)

Google Books
What’s Your’s?:
The Students Guide to Publand

By Thomas Ernest Bennett Clarke
Published by Davies
1938
Pg. 26:
(NB — Gin and lime juice should be ordered as “gimlet” if intended for a lady describing herself as dance hostess, mannequin or “on the films.")

Google Books
Warning Lights of Asia
By Gerald Samson
London: Robert Hale Limited
1940
Pg. 26:
At the Hongkong Hotel I had my first introduction to the white man’s favourite cocktail, gin, lime, and water, happily called a gimlet. 

Google Books
Night in Bombay
By Louis Bromfield
Edition: 2
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers
1940
Pg. 45:
“Make me a gimlet,— straight gin and lime juice— I can’t drink any more water.”

Google Books
The Setting Sun of Japan
By Carl Randau and Leane Zugsmith
New York, NY: Random House
1942
Pg. 155:
... at the American Club, sipping Gimlets, the most relished drink in town, although it was made simply of gin, lime juice and quantities of crushed ice.

Google Books
The Gentleman’s Companion
By Charles Henry Baker
New York, NY: Crown Publishers
1946
Pg. 37:
THE FAR EASTERN GIMLET, CLASSIC NOW ALL over the world. (...) This last is a British invention based on a similar essence to Rose’s Lime Juice — which ...

Google Books
Halfway to Freedom:
A Report on the New India in the Words and Photographs of Margaret Bourke-White

By Margaret Bourke-White
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1949
Pg. 185:
The occasion of the meeting was a “gimlet party” for maharajas and and their guests, and over the Anglicized martini (half gin and half lime juice) which in India is called a gimlet.

18 September 1951, Santa Fe (NM) New Mexican, pg. 2, col. 3 ad:
Before Summer Is Gone
You Should Try A
Gimlet

2 parts Gin or Vodka
1 part Rose sweetened Lime Water
(Murphy’s Liquors—ed.)

20 August 1954, Long Beach (CA) Independent, pg. 24, col. 2 ad:
Looking for something smooth? Try a cool, breathless Vodka Gimlet...made with Crown Russe. It’s a Smoothie!
(Crown Russe Extra Smooth Vodka—ed.)

6 July 1956, Dallas (TX) Morning News, part 1, pg. 13 ad:
three parts vodka
one part lime juice
sweeten to taste
stir over ice and pour
in cocktail glass
GARNISH WITH GREEN CHERRY
And good! M-m-m! Very good, these Gimlets! One caution: be sure to use green cherries, for that’s what makes the difference between just a Gimlet and a Hollywood Gimlet.
(...)
Why not get the mixings today and try a Vodka Gimlet soon?
(Centennial liquor stores—ed.)

San Francisco (SF) Chronicle
Inventive gimlets stray from tradition
Camper English, Special to The Chronicle
Friday, November 3, 2006
(...)
The cocktail name originated from the tool called a gimlet that was used to open the casks of lime juice, or from a ship’s surgeon named Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette, depending on which story you believe.
(...)
Cucumber is a very popular cocktail ingredient now, so it’s no surprise to see it appearing in gimlets. Sushi restaurant Tokyo Go-Go serves a cucumber-infused sake gimlet. The cucumber-infused vodka gimlet at Cortez has been a longtime crowd favorite. Bartenders at Nopa also add elderflower syrup to their vodka gimlets. Oakland’s Di Bartolo’s gimlet includes cracked cardamom with lime and gin or vodka.

Some gimlet expressions stray even further from the original recipe. The Ima gimlet at Mecca has mint and is served in a glass with a sugared rim. Pesce’s Yerba Buena Gimlet is made with tequila, mint, lime and simple syrup. Citizen Thai and the Monkey creates a vodka gimlet with lemongrass, Cointreau, and sweet and sour mix in addition to the lime. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, January 29, 2009 • Permalink