If you want to really understand gin, it’s important to get to know juniper. We would compare it to understanding the influence of casks for whisky fans, grapes for winos or dilution of ice for bartenders. Juniper is such an important aspect of gin that quite literally, it is not only the primary botanical used in gin but by law, it needs to be the predominant flavour in anything seeking to be classified as gin. The aroma and taste of juniper is – or at least should be – the signature note in any gin, both on the nose and on the palate. Even the name Gin itself is derived from either the French genièvre or the Dutch jenever, which both mean juniper.

Vesper: For something a bit different, try a vesper: a martini composed of gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, and a lemon twist
Vesper: For something a bit different, try a vesper: a martini composed of gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, and a lemon twist


tomato juice

Bloody Mary

You know the form for a true cocktail, i.e. a martini: that when you substitute the gin for vodka it becomes a vodka martini or a vodkatini; and if you use lime cordial in place of vermouth it’s a ‘Gimlet’ and should you garnish with an olive it’s a classic martini or with a cocktail onion it’s a ‘gibson’; well, it’s sort of like that for a bloody mary too.

So, swap out the vodka for tequila and it bacomes a ‘bloody maria’ and you can salt the rim in the traditional fashion with tequila and even involve dehudrated cucumber replacing the celery. Or use gin for a ‘red snapper’.

It’s not an elegant drink, and neither would you want to spend the evening downing two litres of tomato juice. However if it’s made right, you can bear a night on Bloody Marys. If the recipe is bad, and it tastes like a pasta sauce, then just eat the celery stick and move on to a diaquiri perhaps. After all, a Bloody Mary at a cocktail bar can set you back over a tenner a go.

A classic bloody Mary is made with vodka, tomato juice, lemon, spices and seasonings. Just as mixing and blending ingredients makes for a great cocktail, a Bloody Mary is a fine art of mixing also. With tomato juice as a base, it is a spicy kick we are looking for so worcestershire sauce, tabasco and other herbs and spices are added to the base. Remember that your not making a curry and the resulting spicy base is not much good if it completely overpowers the main ingredient and you don’t even have to use tomato juice, you can substitute it for celery juice, or cucumber juice.

Luckily vodka doesn’t taste of much so no worry of masking it’s flavour, but if your using gin, and these days a lot of effort goes into the aromatics with gin, then it’s a real shame to mask it completely. It’s that perfect balance you are looking for, to suit your taste.

The story goes that a French barman called Fernand Petiot started the drink in Paris in 1921, moving to New York where in the 1930s he added several ingredients; lemon, Worcestershire sauce and black and cayenne pepper.

The only cocktail recipe that has remained sacrosanct is the classic martini; one part gin, two parts vermouth. Every other has variations. You do not need to use Fernand Petiot’s recipe for it to be a Bloody Mary, you can experiment so long as you, so long as you follow the principle that a vegetable base is spiced and mixed with a spirit.


An easy cocktail to make at home with its effortless mix of gin and lime; it comes steeped in a background of rich naval history.

Our Favourite Recipe:

60ml Gin

15ml Rose’s Lime Cordial

Stir both ingredients with ice and strain into a Martini glass.

Several various stories have been circulated concerning the Gimlet and how it got its unusual name. It is however, unanimously agreed that it was promoted and drunk by British officers back in the 19th Century. Citrus juice was a huge health benefit to sailors as it prevented them from catching scurvy; an often brutal and painful illness brought on by a deficiency of vitamin C that many sailors previous to the 18th and 19th Century had died from.

Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette (served 1879-1913) has been cited by some as the namesake of the Gimlet; acting as a doctor to sailors, he was said to have mixed gin with lime in order to mask the bitter taste. He allegedly introduced this to his mates to help them take the lime juice as an anti-scurvy medication. British sailors however, unlike their superior Naval officers, did not have rations for gin but rather mixed the lime juice with their daily alcohol share, that of rum. This became known as ‘grog’ and due to the increasing amount of ‘grog’ that they drunk, they soon became known as ‘Limeys.’

Another credible sounding story to do with the origins of this cocktail’s name focuses on the hand tool used to pat barrels of spirits on Navy ships, which was also known as a gimlet. This could have easily influenced it’s naming.

Rose’s lime cordial has been central to the Gimlet’s story, having been the accessible and necessary sweet fruit preserve of choice by the sailors, for its vitamin boosting quality. A brief history lesson shows that it was the Scottish entrepreneur, Lauchlan Rose, who first produced this lime cordial in 1867, granting the title of the world’s first fruit concentrate and patenting the process. Later that year a law was passed that all vessels should carry lime juice and serve it as a daily ration to their crews.

Rose had wanted to try and figure out how to keep lime juice consumable for months at a time without the use of alcohol; later he added sugar, sweetening the concentrate to make it more appealing to a wider audience alongside its distinctive packaging, which was until recently contained in decorative green glass bottles with its traced leaf pattern. The fact that such a concentrate is still popular today is testimony to its unique flavour and loyal fan base.

It is worth noting that Rose’s Cordials are produced with different ingredients in the United Kingdom, Canada and America, giving various distinctive tastes. As the Gimlet, like the Martini, is only made up of two ingredients, one’s careful selection of ingredients, as well as experimentation are essential to find the perfect balance for one’s own personal taste.

Original Recipe (well – perhaps not original but certainly one of the earlier references!):

½ Plymouth Gin

½ Rose Lime’s Juice Cordial

Stir together and serve.

‘The Savoy Cocktail Book,’ Harry Craddock. 1930.

How to make it:

Stir and serve in the same glass. As Craddock states, “can be iced if desired.”

How to drink it:

Due to its sweet artificial twang conjured up by the lime cordial, this drink is best sipped on a warm summer’s day.

Our Favourite Twists:

Use fresh lime juice instead of lime cordial for that added burst of freshness with a matching quantity of sugar syrup, or if your feeling particularly brave have a go at making your very own lime cordial.

One of our favourite variations is the Gimlet Grenade from Australian based bartender Jason Chan:

The Gimlet Grenade

50ml Hendrick’s Gin

20ml lime juice

20ml pomegranate syrup

2 slices of cucumber

6-8 mint leaves

5ml sugar syrup

Muddle cucumber with the sugar syrup. Add mint leaves and the remaining ingredients and shake. Double strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass

Garnish with a mint leaf.

“We sat in the corner bar at Victor’s and drank gimlets. ‘They don’t know how to make them here,’ he said. ‘What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.’

Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye. Detective Phillip Marlowe reminiscing about his unlikely friendship with Terry Lennox, at this point in the novel supposed dead, which was formed over Gimlet drinking. Thus for Chandler fans, drinking a Gimlet is associated with feelings of loss, sentimental and evokes deep contemplation and thought.

(According to the culinary historian Robert F. Moss, the passage quoted above was not in the first draft of Chandler’s detective novel, but rather was added after his month long visit with his terminally ill wife to London in 1952. The recipe that he quotes, with half gin and half lime, would have been necessary due to the higher alcohol content of gin at the time.)