There are two theories on the origin of the name of the cocktail drink called gimlet. The first theory is that the name comes from the “from Anglo-French guimbelet, perhaps from M.Du. wimmelkijn, dim. of wimmel ‘auger, drill.’ The meaning ‘cocktail made with gin or vodka and lime juice’ is first attested [in] 1928, presumably from its ‘penetrating’ effects on the drinker.”
The second theory is ship-related. In the 1800s, lime juice was distributed among British sailors to prevent the outbreak of scurvy. One version has it that “the British Royal Navy distributed ‘gimlets’ (a corkscrew-like device used for boring small holes in barrels enabling access to the liquid inside) to the fleet along with the barrels of lime juice.” Hence, the name.
A variation of the second theory is that the gimlet was named after a ship doctor:
According to Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology (p. 261), It seems the Gimlet was originally called the Gimlette, and was named after the naval surgeon who created the drink as a means to give lime juice to sailors for the prevention of scurvy. According to the Field Guide to Cocktails by Rob Chirico (p. 119), Dr. Gimlette thought that gin alone might cloud the sailors’ minds, and adding lime juice to it would prevent that…
I like the second theory better.
The most basic gimlet recipe is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice. The ratio is not a strict formula though. For a less potent gimlet, one part gin and two or three parts lime juice works well too. Other recipes include a slush of soda water and not as much lime juice. And although gin is the traditional spirit used for making gimlet, others prefer vodka.
To mix your own gimlet, I suggest that you start with one part gin (or vodka) and one part lime cordial. Add ice and, if you’re happy with the taste, drink it up.
If, however, you’re using fresh lime juice instead of lime cordial, the one to one ratio will yield a more sour mixture. I suggest you add simple sugar (also called sugar syrup which is simply boiled sugar and water) little by little until you get the exact taste that you like.
Speedy used lime cordial for our gimlet but since our lime tree hasn’t been bearing fruits lately, he garnished the drinks with twists of lemon instead.