My infatuation with Gin began via a gracious pour of Hendricks into a gimlet by an even more gracious host on a balcony overlooking South Lake Union. Looking back, it seemed so simple: Gin and lime (cordial). But, my tastes at the time hadn’t ever ventured beyond the odd Captain and Coke.
In the time since, with only cocktail blogs and books as my guide, Gin gave way to Genever, Rose’s lime juice to fresh-pressed citrus.
This past January, Imbibe Magazine featured a recipe for lime cordial. It captures the bright acidity afforded by lime juice and the intense flavor of the surface oils without being unremittingly sweet like Rose’s. Try it out. I did, and I think you’ll like it.
In a sense, the chase has gone full-circle.
Also, sections on the Gimlet’s origins borrow heavily from Speakeasy, by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric of Employees Only in New York City.
A long time ago, British Naval surgeon named Sir Thomas D. Gimlette invented a cocktail to ward off scurvy which contained Navy-strength Plymouth Gin (issued to officers) and lime cordial.
Commercially available lime cordial relies on corn syrup and artificial flavors, but the original was simply lime juice and water, the high sugar content an effective way to preserve lime during long trips on the high sea.
Truthfully, I kind of like the taste of Rose’s Lime “Juice” with its corn sugar and artificial colors, but there’s something about homemade stuff that just tastes better. This recipe, taken from this month’s issue of Imbibe Magazine (Jan. 2011) takes advantage of not only the lime juice, but the aromatic oils on the surface of the fruit as well, resulting in a lime cordial that tastes like you imagine a lime would.
Here’s how you can make your own:
1. Take 12 limes. Wash ’em. There’s usually wax on the outside of them so give ’em a good scrubbin’.
2. Zest the limes with a channel knife, or if you’re feeling ambitious or just don’t have time to mess around with a channel knife, use a cheese grate like me. I’m lazy, this is easy. Use the fine side. Retain the zest.
3. Juice those f’ers.
12 limes yields about 1.5 cups of juice, so strain the juice into a large saucepan so you don’t get any pulp. This step will save you a lot of headache later on- if you don’t, you’ll have a large syrupy mess to strain bits of pulp out of. You don’t want that.
4. Cut the lime juice with an equal amount of sugar. Simmer for 20 min, reducing the volume by half.
Don’t boil the mixture. Simmering allows reduction without turning it into a muddy brown mess. Nobody wants to drink that. You want a bright lime green. Stir occasionally.
5. Allow to cool for 5 min. Introduce the zest to the mixture and steep it like tea for another 15-20 min.
6. Strain into a clean, sanitized bottle and allow to cool further.
Super easy and super tasty. As always, an ounce of vodka will keep it around longer, but if you plan on going through it quickly like me, you can skip this step.