Gin, Citrus, and a Sweetness

In the last few weeks, I have become an avid consumer of gin-based cocktails.

As with most things of interest, this one has a bit of a convoluted origin.

Over the course of the last year or two, I’ve changed my eating habits to a somewhat (meaning ‘mostly’) bastardized version of a Paleo diet. In a nut, I avoid processed foods, legumes and grains. I try my best to avoid sugar, but fail daily. And I do partake of cream in my coffee, some cheese and greek yogurt, and ice cream.

But that’s about eating. This post is about drinking.

What I like to drink

I like beer, but try not to drink too much more than a bottle or two a month. I’ve already got a serious aversion to brown liquors due to a profound falling out with Captain Morgan while in college.

For a while, cider was an alternative that I made use of, but the high sugar content and the high cost always caused me a bit of a problem.

What I was really looking for was a sipping drink that was relatively in line with the dietary goals I’ve set for myself.

I’d heard that tequila fits that bill, but I don’t like bad tequila and I don’t want to pay for good tequila.

So I’d resigned myself to never really being able to enjoy alcoholic drinks for one reason or another. And life went on.

Found Bounty

One afternoon, I was wandering around my kitchen nosing through the cupboards and putting together a grocery list and noticed a half-full bottle of gin from a party that my wife had thrown years before. And that got me thinking about drinking again.

Didn’t gin go well with citrus juices? I had citrus juices. Lemon. Lime. So I consulted the internet, pursuing a gin drink that used citrus juice. And I discovered a terrific bounty of ideas.

There is a rule of thumb, a time of day, a chronological threshold that once crossed makes it it acceptable to start drinking. That threshold had not been crossed when I made my first gimlet. But I was too excited to be limited to those conventions of polite society.

Simple and Lazy

I’m a simple man. And lazy. And I place a premium on maximum efficiency with minimum of effort.

So it was no surprise that he recipes that caught my eye were the simple ones.

Three ingredients:

  1. Gin
  2. Citrus, whether lime juice or lemon.
  3. A sweetener

Most recipes called for a simple syrup. Sugar and water, brought together and heated on a stove.

No. I wasn’t going to involve a stove in my drink preparation. Any forethought required that went beyond having gin in my cupboard and juice in my fridge was already too much.

I dug further. I discovered a technique of mixing a simple syrup by dumping sugar and hot water in a bottle and shaking it until the sugar dissolved, and I found that acceptable. A few minutes of shaking a bottle of water was acceptable.

For a week, this was the method I used to create my gimlets and sours.

I had heard of Rose’s Lime Juice, but dismissed it because of the ingredients. Dyes, corn syrup, and other undesirables. But I also read that a true gimlet required the use of this product. And I needed to know what it was like. The simplicity requirement was met by simply having an existing bottle of the juice in the fridge that provided both the citrus and the sweetness, it was too much to resist.

But the taste of product itself reflected the less natural ingredients. I didn’t like the taste. Too sweet. Too sour. Too artificial.

I finished the Rose’s off, despite my dissatisfaction, not to avoid throwing it away, but for the use of the bottle. Because I had already stumbled upon a better sweetener.

I began to think about a way to avoid the sugars and the corn syrups and still have a sweet gimlet or sour. And then inspiration struck one morning while I was making my son’s lunch.

My son is a regular consumer of honey, so there is always a bottle of it on our cupboard shelves. And honey is an accepted source of sweetness, since it is a naturally occurring substance and is not processed overly much in its journey from hive to store.

Was it possible to put honey into a gin drink? I took to the internet. What I found was the Bee’s Knees.

Where’s my honey?

Adding honey to a cold drink is problematic. Much stirring is required to avoid ending up with a worm of gold at the bottom of the glass.

However, honey dissolves quickly in warm water, creating what is called a honey syrup, a product that is comparable in sweetness to a simple syrup, but adds a very interesting layer of flavor to the drink it’s added to.

I had a recently emptied resealable glass bottle which once contained the Rose’s Lime Juice. I simply peeled off the label and began to prepare my first batch of honey syrup.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I poured a finger of honey into the bottle.
  2. I poured five fingers of hot water into the bottle.
  3. I shook it up. About 1 minute of shaking or less. Easy.
  4. I made a drink.

Astoundingly simple. Fast. Tasty.

Works well with lemon or lime.

Works well with a cold drink or hot drink.

The Recipes

Here’s my recipe for a Gimlet[1] :

  1. 2 oz. in (I use Gordon’s because it’s of decent quality and price. I can get 1.5L for $17)
  2. 1 oz. Lime juice (I use the bottled stuff because I’m lazy)
  3. 1 oz. Honey syrup

Here’s my recipe for a Gin Sour:

  1. 2 oz. Gin
  2. 1.5 oz lemon juice (the bottled lemon juice seems weaker than the lime juice, hence the extra .5 oz.)
  3. 1 oz. Honey syrup

I shake both of these drinks with ice, and then pour them into tumblers full of ice. Makes very tasty drinks.

Sometimes, for variety, I put the drinks in a pint glass filled with ice and then top off whatever space in the glass with carbonated water. H2Oh! Because I have it on hand. Sometimes I use unflavored, sometimes lemon-lime, sometimes Orange. Adds some bulk to the drink and some fizz. It does mellow out the flavor, but it doesn’t make it too watery.


  1. Also, I’ve heard the lemon variation called the Bee’s Knees, and the lime version called The Business.  ↩