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Friday, June 19, 2009

Vodka Gimlet: a tart treat of a cocktail

I came back to the Vodka Gimlet cocktail in a round-about way. My wife was reading Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia when she noticed she didn’t actually have time to read it, so she decided she would listen to the second half on CD while driving to and from work. The point of all this is that one evening she came home and commanded that I prepare her a Vodka Gimlet because inside the CD case for the book is a recipe card for a “Perfect Gimlet”. I won’t duplicate the book’s recipe here, but a quick perusal of the recipe card indicated that it was an avenue I would not travel due to the inclusion of Rose’s Lime Juice. Now I have nothing against Rose’s except the sugar and the fact that it’s bottled lime juice. I don’t mind getting the carbos in the alcohol (they are, after all, a necessary evil), but I try to avoid empty sugar calories. Many Gimlet recipes insist on Rose’s, but unless you had your first Gimlet with Rose’s at your mother’s knee, you shouldn’t mind a little substitution.

It had been many years since I had had one (that’s no longer true), but I remembered it as a very simple drink and Julie’s recipe had confirmed that: Vodka + sweetened lime juice = Vodka Gimlet (a Gimlet familiaris is made with Gin, originally this was probably bathtub gin due to the cocktail’s birth during the roaring twenties). I set to work to forge my own recipe, immediately upgrading the Rose’s to freshly squeezed lime juice combined with zero-calorie, vegetable-based sweetener. I like things tart, so I used the equivalent of one teaspoon of sugar with three-quarters of an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice. (Note: I always specify sugar in my recipes, even if I’m not actually using it. Feel free to substitute your sweetener of choice, or even to use Rose’s if you must.) As usual, you should adjust the lime juice and sweetener to suit your taste.

You may have noticed that there is a lot of potential here for a tall summer cooler. Prepare as below, but increase the lime juice and sweetener to taste, strain into a Collins glass full of ice, fill with soda, garnish with a lime wheel or wedge, and serve with a straw.

Vodka Gimlet

2 oz Vodka

¾ oz Lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp Simple Syrup

Combine ingredients in a shaker ¾ full of ice. Shake to the beat of the Charleston while thinking of a flapper in a short skirt (but not your grandmother). Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lime wheel, and settle down to enjoy one of life’s tarter pleasures.

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