We’re keeping it short and sweet this week, folks, which is coincidentally also the way I like this drink.
A few weeks ago, Joe Wicks was the guest on Off Menu, a podcast I listen to where two comedians ask their guests what their dream meal would be, course by course. Joe was delightful because he’s known in the UK as the pandemic fitness instructor guy and all he chose to eat was burgers, fries, cheese, and alcohol, which I deeply respect and which is super realistic.
Also, he and his daughter like to make what’s known in their household as an “early gin-ton” (gin and tonic at or before 5pm). His daughter’s a toddler, so she’s just getting ton and lime, but I love the idea of an early gin-ton for starting your evening off right. Earlier the better, in the summertime.
There’s something so deluxe about having nibbles and drinks pre-dinner. For example, right now it’s 5pm and I’m chugging a packet of cheese and onion Hula Hoops and washing it down with a medical-grade condensed-milkified Strong Tea.
But in more relaxed times, there’s nothing better than sitting out with something nice to drink at the end of the day, looking forward to eating dinner, enjoying the fact that the evening is beginning and the day is about to be over.
Gimlets are perfect for this time of day. Gimlets used to make me think of Betty Draper (vodka gimlets are her drink) but now they make me think of podcasts and scandals and how Starlee Kine deserved more than she got.
A quick Google shows that gimlet comes from a 13th century word for a kind of piercing tool, which explains a gimlet-eyed (piercing) stare. Like their namesake, gimlets (the drink version) are short, sharp, punchy, and get the job done quick.
A real, old-school gimlet is two parts gin (or vodka) to one part lime cordial, shaken with ice and poured into a chilled coupe glass. Like most really grown-up drinks, it’s clear, cold, refreshing, and will make you feel like Wile E. Coyote running into a painted train tunnel as soon as you stand up. Sometimes that’s what you want. Sometimes that’s what you need.
Other times, you want a refreshing, bubbly limeade in a tall highball glass over ice. Surprising no one, this is how I like my lime cordial. Sometimes I put a little gin in there if I’m feeling frisky or if I’m fine going to bed early.
But the real point here is making your own lime cordial is easier than forgetting about your leftovers overnight in the fridge, and it tastes way better than the stuff in the bottle. No weird fake aspartame-y aftertaste, no cloying sweetness. Just a fresh, clean citrus flavor that tastes like a cool breeze on a bright day. Pair with Molly’s “Classy” playlist.
Lime Cordial (for Alice’s Gimlets (with a Ginger Option))
I honestly think lime is one of the most underrated tastes out there. It’s by far my favorite citrus. Making sugar cookies with a hit of lemon zest is fine – change it to a hit of lime zest and really LIVE. But that’s a recipe for another time.
Make a jar and keep it in your fridge all summer for limeades, punches, and gimlets galore.
9 whole limes, washed well
1 ¼ c sugar
Optional: ½ pound fresh ginger. You don’t have to peel it, just wash it so it’s not dirty
- Get a large clean container, preferably with a lid – a mason jar, or a Tupperware, or a jug.
- Measure sugar into jug
- Pare the skin off the limes – you’re going to peel the skin off in big strips with a small knife, but try to get as little of the pith as possible. I am not good at this, so my cordial is always a little bitter which I don’t really mind? But it’s not correct. So do your best. We’re not zesting, we’re MegaZesting
- Set your peels aside, DON’T THROW THEM AWAY
- Juice your limes and strain the juice into your container, on top of the sugar.
- Whisk the juice and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
- Grab two big handfuls of your lime-peel and squish and scrunch them over your juice mixture to release the oils, then drop them in.
- Optionally, if you want to go A Spicy Route, grate in up to half a pound of fresh ginger root. The smaller you grate it, the spicier it’ll be. Don’t worry about peeling it as long as it’s clean – you’re going to strain the cordial later on.
- Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, or whenever you’re ready, strain the cordial into a fresh container. Keeps for up to a month.
To make a gimlet
Measure 2 parts gin and 1 part cordial into a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled coupe glass.
If you want it less strong, pour over ice.
If you want it Katie-style, pour 1 part cordial into the bottom of a highball glass full of ice and top with seltzer and more lime zest. Gin optional.