The Gimlet is perhaps the most well known of all the naval cocktails and is a staple on many a cocktail menu having originated in the late 19th Century.
The ships of her majesty’s Royal Navy were required to carry lime juice since 1867. Although Sir Francis Drake knew the benefits of feeding lime juice to his sailors almost 300 years before that. It is of course a great defence against scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency!
Fresh lime juice in a barrel doesn’t stay fresh very long and it is perhaps no coincidence that that very same year a Scotsman by the name of Lauchlin Rose patented a method of using sugar to preserve lime juice. It was also probably no coincidence that he built his factory in Leith, right next to the Old Dock which was the Royal Navy’s principal harbour in Scotland.
Now if the study of cocktail history teaches us anything, it is that if you put a number of men together in a small area far away from home they will generally start to mix whatever they have to hand with which ever alcohol they have available.
Whilst many people think of rum as the drink of the navy and it certainly was, what people are generally less aware of is that the ships would also carry a supply of gin, Navy Strength gin at that.
Well, whilst lime cordial probably improved the flavour of the water on the ships it was doubtless improved further by the addition of gin, and so the Gimlet was born. How quickly this happened is hard to say, if I had to hazard a guess I’d say that it would probably be whilst land was still in sight.
On board the ships of course, it would just be a case of simply mixing the two ingredients together in a metal cup, although these days the recipe is a tad more sophisticated.
20mls Roses Lime Cordial
Slice of lime
Pour the gin into a large glass with fresh ice, followed by the lime cordial. Garnish with lime and a seasonal flower.