Ever wonder about the history of the cocktail you’re sipping on? If you have a point of origin, surely that delectable combination of liquids has one, too, right?

Let’s start with a cocktail whose origin story is both fascinating and admirable  — The Gimlet. A simple mix of gin and lime juice cordial… crafted to save the British Royal Navy.

Gimlet Royal Navy

HMS Centurion 1897 (public domain)

lime cordialAt times more dangerous than any human enemy, scurvy (caused by a lack of vitamin C) could bring down a ship of otherwise able-bodied sailors and officers. In 1867, the Merchant Shipping Act was passed requiring every ship to serve lime juice as a daily ration to its crew. This was good news for Scottish entrepreneur Lauchlan Rose, who earlier that year had patented the world’s first fruit concentrate, Rose’s Lime Cordial.

Meanwhile, sometime after 1879, Surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette prescribed that gin be mixed with the daily ration of lime juice to mask its bitterness and ensure his fellow naval officers consumed their medicine. (British sailors, on the other hand, had rum rations with which they concocted their own “lime medicine”–grog, their love of which soon led sailors to be nicknamed Limeys.)

As for the name, it’s been debated whether Gimlet is derived from the kind doctor–Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette–or the tool that was used to bore into the barrels of spirits on Navy ships–a gimlet. Either way, we’re thankful that we can help continue the fight against scurvy to this day.

So, drop by the tasting room and join the fine tradition of the British Royal Navy by fighting scurvy with a classic Gimlet!

kansas city cocktails gimlet