How to make the best vodka gimlet from scratch using easy-to-make homemade lime cordial with fresh lime zest and juice.
Related: We love our Perfect Cosmopolitan Cocktail!
Traditionally, a Gimlet calls for gin and lime juice, often sweetened lime juice or Rose’s lime cordial — that’s the electric green bottled lime juice sold next to grenadine. We thought that’s all we needed to know, but then our good friend, Kathleen told us about a gimlet she ordered at a local bar. It was completely house-made and switched the gin for vodka. Now we don’t have anything against Rose’s lime cordial, but after Kathleen raved about her “from-scratch” gimlet, we just had to give it a try ourselves. We also loved the idea of switching the gin for vodka since that’s more in line with what we have in our home.
Use Homemade Lime Cordial for the Best Gimlets at Home
Making a gimlet is very simple. All you need to do is shake lime cordial with vodka and ice then strain into a glass. And while it is pretty tasty (and classic) when made with something like Rose’s, we really loved the idea of making that part ourselves.
After a little research and testing things out, we came up with a homemade lime cordial that’s fresher, zestier and brighter tasting than Rose’s. It’s a combination of lime simple syrup and fresh lime juice. It’s seriously good and works beautifully with vodka — and, if you were wondering, it’s great with gin, too. So you can easily make a classic gin gimlet.
How to Make Homemade Lime Cordial
We start with a few limes. Since we use the zest and juice, we like to clean them. It may seem a little odd, but limes are usually coated with some sort of wax and since we don’t really want any wax in our cocktail, it’s best to remove it.
To remove the waxy layer from limes (or any citrus), just dunk them into boiling water for a few seconds then wipe them clean with a dish towel.
Now that we’re working with squeaky clean limes, we move on to making the lime syrup. Use a microplane or fine zester to remove the outer layer of rind from one of the limes — you are only looking for the green part, not the white part, which can be bitter.
Add the lime zest to a pan with equal parts sugar and water then bring everything to a simmer. As the water simmers, the sugar will dissolve and the oils and flavor of the lime zest will seep out, making a lime flavored simple syrup.
Let the syrup cool, strain it, add some fresh lime juice and you’re left with a sweetened, fresh lime cordial that’s ready to be made into a gimlet.
If you liked our vodka gimlet recipe, you may also enjoy these cocktails:
- Learn how to make the Classic Moscow Mule — Just Three Ingredients!
- Give our Classic Gin Fizz Cocktail a try, or take a look at our Rosemary Gin Fizz Recipe.
Vodka Gimlet From Scratch
Replacing store-bought lime cordial or juice with our homemade version makes our gimlet fresh, zesty and bright. They are a little sweet, but not overly so. If you prefer them less sweet, add an extra squeeze of lime juice to each drink or bump up the vodka by a 1/2 ounce to 1 full ounce to balance out the syrup. The recipe below makes enough lime cordial for 4 cocktails (about 1 1/4 cups).
You Will NeedGimlets
8 ounces (1 cup) vodka or gin
8 ounces (1 cup) homemade lime cordial
4 lime slices, for garnishHomemade Lime Cordial
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
- Make Cordial
1Combine 1 teaspoon of lime zest, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. While whisking constantly, bring to a low simmer and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved into the water, about 5 minutes. Set pan aside to cool completely. Strain lime syrup then mix with the fresh lime juice.
- Make Gimlets
1For each gimlet, add 2 ounces of vodka and 2 1/2 ounces of homemade lime cordial to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well then strain into a glass. Garnish with a lime slice.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Recipe inspired and adapted from The Kitchn’s Gin Gimlet without the Rose’s.
- Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.