I distinctly remember the first time I ever had a French gimlet. I’d been visiting my BFF in L.A. for a pre-bachelorette weekend just the two of us.
We’d been shopping all day for honeymoon necessities, and her (now) husband made us homemade pizzas while we rested our weary feet.
We scarfed pizza and she made us French gimlets…strong, tart, sweet. We had one, then another, then a third.
And then she gave me a steely-eyed long look over the top of her glass, paused for a second, and said, “I can’t drive you to the airport.” Thus began my $60 Uber to LAX…they pack a boozy punch.
What is a French gimlet? It’s basically a regular gimlet, but with the addition of St. Germain liqueur…the elderflower adding a “je ne sais quoi” to the traditional gin and lime juice combo.
I can’t find an exact origin of the cocktail, but the regular gimlet is said to originate from the Royal Navy in the late 1800s or early 1900s as a way to get sailors to take their lime rations and avoid scurvy. SIGN. ME. UP.
Want to add a little herb-iness?? Try the Basil Gin Gimlet
Actually making the drink is super easy. I recommend you chill your glass, even just for a few minutes, because it makes the flavors a bit crisper. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the gin, FRESH lime juice, and elderflower liqueur. Shake for at least 15 seconds, until cold. Strain into your glass.
From all the recipes I found, the French gimlet is traditionally a 4:3:1 ratio (gin / St. Germain / fresh lime juice). But I’ve found I like more lime juice so I go with a 2:1:1 ratio…I like the equal parts St. Germain and lime juice, as the tart citrus balances the floral sweetness nicely.
Quality matters here. The French gimlet only has a few ingredients, so make sure they’re good. A really good gin (I’m a huge Fords fan, but Citadelle works nicely too), fresh-squeezed lime juice…if you cut corners, you get sad results.
Other cocktails you’ll love:
- Like a gimlet, but with grapefruit: Bohemian Cocktail (Gin, Elderflower, & Grapefruit)
- An herbaceous take on a gimlet: Basil Gin Gimlet
- Another great Navy scurvy buster: A Classic ‘Army & Navy’ Cocktail
- A classic: “Brown Derby” Cocktail
- Twist on a classic: Fizzy Rosemary Gin Gimlet
- Unique: Bourbon Milk Punch Cocktail
I’ve adapted this recipe from A Couple Cooks to my tastes
- 3 ounces of GOOD gin
- 1 1/2 ounces of St Germain elderflower liqueur
- 1 1/2 ounces of fresh lime juice (yes, fresh is critical); this is about one small lime
- For the garnish: lime wedge or slice
- Add the gin, lime juice, and St Germain to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake until cold (at least 15 seconds).
- Strain into (preferably chilled) glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.
- Using fresh lime juice and good gin is critical; there are only a few ingredients in this cocktail, so quality matters
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