The traditional gimlet gets a liquor swap in this refreshing vodka gimlet recipe. This 3-ingredient classic cocktail recipe needs to be in your repertoire! 

yellow cocktail in a coupe glass set on a wood table with a like wheel garnished on glass

What is a vodka gimlet?

The gimlet, thought to have originated as early as the 18th century, has been made with gin for most of its history. The 1980s and 1990s saw a surge in vodka gimlet popularity, but since then the gin gimlet has remained the most popular. I’ll take it either way, but the vodka does make for a smoother drink.

For years now the gimlet has regularly been made with fresh lime juice. But for decades the Gimlet cocktail was made with sweet bottled lime mix called Rose’s lime cordial. You can still find the cordial, which dates back to the 1860s. If you opt to make a gimlet using Rose’s lime juice mix, skip the simple syrup as the mix is already sweetened. I recommend using one ounce of lime cordial to two ounces vodka. 

Gimlet vs martini

Classically, both gimlets and martinis are made with gin. But like I mentioned earlier, either can also be made with vodka. 

Gimlet: gin + lime juice + simple syrup

Martini: gine + dry vermouth (olive brine makes it a dirty martini)

Ingredients in a vodka gimlet

You only need 3 ingredients for this refreshing and gorgeous vodka drink!

  • Vodka: since there’s only three ingredients, and because vodka makes up most of the drink, I recommend using a premium vodka like Belvedere or Ketel One. I usually stick to $25-$35 for a quality bottle. 
  • Fresh lime juice: skip the bottle lime juice and squeeze a few fresh lime yourself, it really makes all the difference. 
  • Sweetener: simple syrup is traditional, but you can also use honey or agave.
yellow cocktail in a coupe glass set on a wood table with a like wheel garnished on glass

Up or on the rocks?

Gimlets are classically served up in a martini or coupe glass, but like with any cocktail, you do you, use whatever cocktail glass you prefer. You can certainly pour this over ice in a rocks glass and call it a day. 


  • Make a basil vodka gimlet by muddling a few basil leaves in a cocktail shaker before adding vodka or lime juice. Mint or rosemary would also make great variations. 
  • Give it a margarita-ish twist by using triple sec in place of simple syrup. 
  • Make a vodka gimlet without sugar or simple syrup and use agave syrup instead. 
  • Make a flavored simple syrup for this cocktail (mint, rosemary, cardamom pods, fresh ginger, peppercorns, lime peels)
  • Add a ¼ to ½ ounce of St. Germain for a floral note
  • If you like your cocktails salty (like my husband does), drop a few green olives in the martini glass. 
  • Replace the lime juice and simple syrup with Rose’s lime cordial for an uber traditional version. 

More Vodka Recipes to Love…

If you give this vodka gimlet recipe a try, be sure to let me know what you think! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations in the wild!

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yellow cocktail in a coupe glass set on a wood table with a like wheel garnished on glass

Classic Vodka Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: no-cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


A classic vodka cocktail recipe that requires just 3 ingredients. Light, citrusy and refreshing! 


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¼½ ounce simple syrup, honey or agave syrup
  • Lime wheel for garnish, optional


Combine vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with a few pieces of ice. Stir until well chilled (you can also shake, though stirring is traditional). Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lime wheel.


Naturally sweeten this cocktail by using agave syrup or honey. Agave syrup will have the cleanest taste in this cocktail while honey will add a floral note.


  • Serving Size: 1 cocktail
  • Calories: 160
  • Sugar: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 6mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0g

Keywords: vodka gimlet, vodka gimlet recipe, gimlet recipe, vodka cocktail

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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    1. Hi Barbara! I wish I could tell you, but unfortunately I found these at Goodwill and there is no brand etched on the bottom of the glass. I’m sorry!