This is THE cocktail of summer 2023

Move over Martinis, another classic cocktail is about to steal your crown. Experts agree the drink Australians will be obsessively sipping over summer is the Gimlet.

You know a cocktail is having a moment when it appears in the Curatif canned cocktail line-up. According to Sanger, while the Hugo Spritz, Freisling (frosé’s German cousin) and various Paloma twists have been hyped as summer’s hottest drink, the Gimlet is the true contender.

“In summary, classics are back,” Sanger said. “Thinking more deeply, it’s not news that craft gin has had a huge boom, and the best way to discover and enjoy the complexities of beautifully curated spirits are in the fundamentals. The golden ratio means tremendous tequila shines in a Tommy’s, delectable rums dance in a Daiquiri, and gorgeous gins glam up a Gimlet.”

Curatif’s Sunshine State Gimlet features 78 Degrees Distillery ‘Sunshine State’ gin with a splash of sun-ripened lime and a dash of grapefruit bitters.

“We were introduced to the 78 Degrees Sunshine State Gin by one of our business partners and the first cocktail we attempted with it was a Gimlet, and honestly once we got the ratios right we couldn’t fault it – it’s the perfect orchestra of bright, fresh, summer flavours,” Sanger said.

One of the world’s oldest cocktails

The Gimlet was created in the 19th century to prevent British Navy officers from getting scurvy. Officers were administered a daily ration of lime juice to ward off the disease. 

Legend has it that naval doctor Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette suggested combining the lime juice with the officers’ daily ration of gin to mask the bitter taste. The combination was an instant hit.

Rose’s Lime Cordial eventually became the favoured form of lime. In 1867 a law was passed stating that all Naval vessels should serve the concentrate as the daily ration to the crews.

These days bartenders and home mixologists prefer to use fresh juice in their concoctions. 

How to mix the perfect Gimlet

Owner of Sydney’s Gin Lane Grant Collins is a man who knows his way around a great gin cocktail and he says classic recipes such as the Gimlet will never go out of fashion.

He also believes the concept of a Gimlet is a great starting place for experimentation, such as his Cucumber Gimlet (above).

“At Gin Lane we use many classic recipes as a base for creating new blends of flavour matching,” he said.

“The foundation of base liquor/juice and modifier is a sound one – gin, lime, sugar – in the case of a Gimlet or Sour.

“The Gimlet is light, refreshing and easy to drink so suits the Australian climate well.”

According to Collins, the secret to serving the perfect Gimlet is great London Dry Gin, temperature and fresh squeezed juice.

“For gin use a juniper forward London Dry style such as Poor Toms Dry Gin or Tanqueray London Dry, always chill your glass and freshly squeeze your juice,” he said.

“Make your own ice when you can – don’t use the service station ice. Use filtered water and freeze, then remove and let melt a little and repeat, three times. This “triple frozen” ice will not melt and looks great in your drinks and also works well for shaking.

“The acidity of fresh juice can alter dramatically once juiced. For best results squeeze juice and let rest for a few hours then include into your drink. Most limes when squeezed are around 2.4ph and very acidic. Using  2.2ph creates the best juice for your cocktails.

“So at your next dinner party get organised. Make your own ice, freeze your glasses, make sure you have a good gin on hand, pre-squeeze your juice and let it sit for two to three hours, then shake your Gimlet really well!”

Shake a Gimlet like a Japanese master

According to the author of Signature Cocktails, Amanda Shuster, perfecting a hard shake plays a crucial role in serving the perfect Gimlet.

“Observing a bartender who is well trained in the art of the hard shake is like watching a ballet that’s been choreographed and painstakingly rehearsed at the highest level,” she writes.

“The shaker is held in the fingers of one hand while the thumb of the other secures the top. In this position, the tin is undulated away from the body, then snatched back toward the chest in a repetitive motion, completely linear, not up and down, for a good 15 seconds or so. With this technique the ice hits both the top and bottom of the shaker, while the liquid simultaneously aerates and emulsifies, chilling it without over dilution.

“The hard shake was perfected by bartender Kazuo Uyeda and is best exemplified by the simple art of the house gimlet served at Tender, in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan, which he opened in 1997.

“Mr. Uyeda’s recipe—made with gin, simple syrup, and lime juice—is one of the first sours in the modern era to be served in a coupe with a wide circumference over a single large ice cube or sphere. This detail enables the gimlet to maintain the proper temperature and wield all the benefits of that beautiful hard shake.”

Schuster adds that while drinks have been known to run a little on the wild side at Tender, the most-ordered cocktail is the house gimlet.

Tender Gimlet

  • 45ml London dry gin
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • 15ml fresh lime juice

METHOD: Place a large ice cube or sphere in a wide-rimmed coupe glass (not one of those dainty, delicate ones or it could break). Place all the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and hard shake for at least 15 seconds. Strain into the coupe over the ice.

Excerpted from Signature Cocktails© 2023 by Amanda Schuster. Photography © 2023 by Andy Sewell. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.

Pictured main: The Barber Shop Gimlet. You’ll find The Barber Shop at 89 York St, Sydney NSW. 

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