Our modern diet allows for plenty of vitamin C, but this wasn’t always the case. The Royal British Navy discovered that in the 16th century, when it lost millions of sailors, that a lack of vitamin C can result in scurvy. Though vitamin C wouldn’t be discovered until the 20th century, naval doctors only knew that daily rations of lemon or lime juice helped to curb scurvy symptoms.
Along with the citrus rations, sailors also received rations of rum or gin, which eventually were combined to form the foundation of two storied cocktails, the daiquiri and the gimlet.
A true gimlet actually uses only two ingredients: gin and lime cordial (lime juice and sugar). Though many prefer vodka, gin is the original spirit of this quaff. Specifically, the lime cordial most used is the familiar bottle of Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial. However, modern bartenders eschew the corn syrup-infused Rose’s, and combine simple syrup and fresh lime juice (which I prefer).
In addition to its medical benefits, it also happens to be a tasty cocktail. The sweet/sour contrast is similar to a daiquiri or a margarita. Not much of a surprise since the recipes for all three are essentially the same, save for the spirit. This is also a super easy recipe to make in large batches. I suggest always keeping some simple syrup in your fridge (one part water to one part sugar). It’s a convenient way to sweeten your morning coffee or tea, a mid-day pitcher of iced tea, or a midday pitcher of gimlets (or after 5; whichever works).
I recently added another element to the game after whipping up a batch of rosemary simple syrup (recipe follows), which lends a woody savory character to this summer refresher. Basil simple would also be nice.
If you currently suffer from scurvy, I would prescribe 100 milliliters, stat. If you don’t, what better way to keep the doctor away? Not to mention, it tastes slightly better than a vitamin C pill.
2 ounces quality London dry gin (you can’t go wrong with Plymouth)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Enjoy, repeat. This is also enjoyable over crushed ice in an old fashioned glass.
Rosemary simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 sprigs rosemary
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to just under a boil, then turn off. Toss in rosemary, stir and let cool to room temperature. Strain out rosemary and place in a glass container. Refrigerate.