Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Richmond Gimlet: A Better Version of My Classic '90s Cocktail

Richmond Gimlet

The late '90s were my college years, 1995 to 1999 to be exact. I wasn't much of a beer drinker in college. I hadn't yet discovered my love of IPA. Even during my semester abroad in London I remember drinking more cider than beer. At the time, I was more into mixed drinks, liked screwdrivers (vodka and orange juice, something I don't drink anymore).

During my senior year I started getting into cocktails, and the gimlet was the first one I learned to make. I discovered the recipe for it in Wallpaper, an art and lifestyle magazine I was into at the time. It was very simple: gin, Rose's sweetened lime juice and powdered sugar. I didn't have a cocktail shaker at the time, but I kept the gin and lime juice cold and powdered sugar dissolves in liquid pretty easily. I felt very sophisticated drinking those in my conical martini-style glasses.

Today, that recipe doesn't really appeal to me. I'm not a big fan of Rose's sweetened lime juice, although it is traditional for this drink instead of fresh lime juice (see this classic recipe from Imbibe). And I wouldn't use powdered sugar in a cocktail--I'd use simple syrup.

Researching the gimlet, I wondered what Jeffrey Morgenthaler would make of this drink. Although he didn't include it in The Bar Book, turns out his take on the gimlet is something he's rather known for. He calls it the Richmond Gimlet, a simple yet inspired pairing of gin, lime, sugar and mint. It's so simple, it's a wonder no one came up with this before. The mint is a welcome addition and I was so glad to see he prefers fresh lime juice to the bottled kind. While I might have some nostalgia for the version I made 16 years ago, I much prefer this improved recipe.

Cocktail: Richmond Gimlet
Adapted from a recipe by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

2 oz. gin
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
8 mint leaves

Combine gin, lime juice, simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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