Dating back to the 1920’s, the traditional Gimlet is a simple and elegant cocktail made with gin and sweetened lime juice. Many recipes call for Rose’s lime juice, a patented, world-wide brand that has been on the market since the mid-1800’s. Rose’s was developed by adding sugar to lime juice for the purpose of preserving it. Under the auspices of the Coca-Cola conglomerate, Rose’s recipe for the UK and Canada has remained close to the original using cane sugar and no preservatives. In contrast, the ingredients for the US and other areas of distribution include high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial color.
The proportions of gin to lime juice vary greatly from recipe to recipe but we’ll begin the lab with the gin and Rose’s lime in a 2:1 ratio. Our three different brands of gin include Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater, and New Amsterdam. In the first run, all of test samples have a bitter aftertaste, prompting us to add a second set of test samples using our own mixture of lime juice and simple syrup in a 1:1 ratio in place of the Rose’s.
Of the three gins, New Amsterdam is the most citrusy on its own. Mixing with sweetened lime juice adds likes to likes offering a smooth, uncomplicated fresh lime flavor profile. If you’re only an occasional gin drinker, this is probably the one for you.
Beefeater’s juniper essence plays off the sweetened lime, adding more complexity than the New Amsterdam. Light aromatics are followed by evergreens and tart fruit on the palate. It seems like a good fit for a straightforward gin drinker.
Our first few sips of the Bombay Sapphire test sample are a profusion of medicinally aromatic botanicals. Adding sweetened lime juice to this highly complex gin has produced “flavor confusion”. But as I take a few more sips, and it begins to grow on me, we decide to mix up a cocktail-sized version.
Shaking over ice and pouring into small martini glasses, this chilled version opens up to full-flavored lushness. A palate of juniper, coriander, and licorice pairs beautifully with tart fresh lime. The medicinal quality that we detected in our small sample has been offset by the ice water runoff from shaking. Dare I describe the Bombay version of the Gimlet as “Bombastic?”
- 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin
- ½ oz. lime juice
- ½ oz. simple syrup
Shake over ice and pour into glass.