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Three Ways: Gimlet

Like other cocktails in the historical canon, the Gimlet traces its somewhat murky roots to tales of sailors, scurvy, and creative ways to consume vitamin C. The drink’s simple mix consists of gin, lime juice, and sugar, but some early published recipes called for equal parts gin and Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial. While today’s bartenders tend to opt for fresh lime juice—and modern tastes dictated dialing down the sweetness and bumping up the booze—the experimentation doesn’t end there. From simple tweaks to experimental flavors, here are three versions to shake up.

Beach House Gimlet

A kick of vegetal undertones and a dash of tropical fruit add fresh complexity to the Gimlet’s standard build in this variation from Death & Co. “I try to add a savory or spicy component as often as possible in any citrus-forward drink,” says Shannon Ponche, who created the recipe while bartending at Death & Co’s New York City bar. (It can also be found in their new cocktail book, Welcome Home). “Notes of chilies, and even cilantro, in the vodka add so much to a classic gimlet recipe.”

To mix the drink, in an ice-filled shaker, add 1 1/4 oz. of gin, 3/4 oz. of St. George Green Chile Vodka, 3/4 oz. of fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz. of cane sugar syrup, 1 tsp. of crème de banana, and 1 dash of absinthe. Shake well and double strain into a chilled coupe

Lemongrass Gimlet

At Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar in Chicago, the Lemongrass Gimlet has been a favorite since day one. “I wanted the cocktail menu to balance out the big flavors of the American Chinese food we serve,” says partner and beverage director Chase Bracamontes. “The concept of Chef’s Special is founded in nostalgia, so I wanted to have some familiarity across the cocktails while simultaneously making it something you haven’t had before. I’ve always loved lemongrass, and I knew it would offer a complementary contrast in a Gimlet because it’s tropical, tart, and botanical.” 

Make a lemongrass syrup by chopping three stalks of lemongrass into one-inch pieces and pounding them so the threads split. Add the lemongrass to a medium saucepan with 2 cups of white sugar, 2 1/2 cups of water, and one lime leaf (optional), and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Let the syrup cool, then strain and bottle for use within 4 weeks. Bracamontes also adds five drops of chlorophyll (available at health food stores) to the cooled syrup for a bright green color, but this is optional. To mix the drink, add 1 oz. of London dry gin, 1/2 oz. of shochu or soju (25-30 percent ABV), 1/2 oz. of Salers Aperitif, 3/4 oz. of fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz. of the lemongrass syrup, 2 dashes of orange bitters, and 1 slice of fresh jalapeño to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and double strain into a chilled coupe.

Birthday Gimlet

This riff from the Electra Cocktail Lounge in Las Vegas gets a simple celebratory twist when 
topped with Champagne, which pulls double duty by both drying out the drink slightly and adding a gentle fizz. “A classic Gimlet is made even better with a splash of Champagne,” says Daniel Yang, lead bartender at Electra. “You’ll have all the beautiful focus on citrus and balance while giving it just the right amount of effervescence.” The drink also gets a subtle boost of complexity by dropping a grapefruit peel into the shaker. “Coined the ‘regal’ shake in 
industry-speak, a twist of grapefruit incorporates the oils from the peel to dry out the cocktail a bit more and round out some of the flavors,” says Yang.

To mix the drink, add 1 1/2 oz. of gin, 3/4 oz. of fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz. of simple syrup (1:1), and a grapefruit twist to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a frozen coupe, top with Champagne (about 1 oz.), and garnish with an edible flower.

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