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Is a Sir Francis Drake gimlet the solution to empty nest syndrome?

September 29, 2016
How to make a Sir Frances Drake Gimlet on

Sir Frances Drake Gimlet

Empty nest syndrome, is it even a thing? And how do you deal with your strangely altered nest now the flock has flown and you sit bereft and disorientated like two turtle doves? Since veggie teen left for University, we’ve been getting used to doing things for two. Without even discussing it we’ve made a point of making sure we spend regular time together. One new routine, in our emptier house is to curl up on the sofas (KP, me and the dog) and catch up on a bit of telly a few nights a week. Poldark is shaping up nicely and while the plot is rather over-simplified and the acting a bit predictable, the costumes, sets, landscape and the smouldering Aiden Turner all look rather gorgeous. In this week’s episode the villagers down on the Cornish coast were all suffering from scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, until a generous (and beautiful) benefactor gave them a few crates of oranges.

The original gimlet cocktail was a tot of Navy ration gin with some lime cordial to prevent the sailors from being afflicted with the same disease.

While modern interpretations can include fresh lime juice, you can make a gimlet very easily by stirring together 50ml of gin, 10ml of lime cordial with lots of ice, then straining it into a coupe glass. Alternatively a 1928 description of the drink was: “gin, a spot of lime, and soda.”

Denzel, my bartender cocktail mentor, has devised rather cunning, if slightly more complicated, variation of a gimlet for this month. I challenge your mouth not to water as you read the description; it’s refreshing, sour with a touch of spice. The flavours are exotic, like the places the sailors might have visited, and contains plenty of scurvy-preventing fruit plus an aromatic herbal concoction that will make you feel like an alchemist of old.

So I can sit on my sofa sipping one of these, pretending to be Elizabeth Chenoweth or Caroline Penvenen in a gown and petticoats, glancing at swarthy KP quaffing a cider. Scurvy is prevented, the nest seems cosy, all is well. I’m not suggesting that turning to drink is the answer to missing your loved ones. Treating to yourself to something special and hanging out with your partner helps though.

How to make a Sir Frances Drake Gimlet on

Good health and sea-faring

Denzel’s inspiration for this months’ gin cocktail had roots in sea-faring and getting back to the land. The Caorunn gin he recommends is made with hand-foraged botanicals from rowanberries to blackthorn. As well as the aforemention navy gin rations, ginger beer originated in England in the 1700’s and was a fermented alcoholic beverage. Ginger beer even crossed the pond in the early days and antique stoneware bottles of Francis Drake Ginger Beer, which was made from 1867 to 1925 in New Glasgow Nova Scotia, are still around. Vice Admiral Francis Drake was born in Tavistock in Devon, where KP grew up and I spend part of every summer. We often visit Buckland Abbey, Francis Drake’s former home, where he may have plotted his navigation of the globe or his defence of the British Isles from the Spanish Armada.

You may have to plot making this in several stages but it’s totally worth it.

Yeghes da! (Good health in Cornish)

Sir Frances Drake Gimlet

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


45ml Caorunn gin

10ml coriander (cilantro) Bianco Vermouth*

30ml rhubarb and ginger cordial**

15ml fresh lime juice

15ml egg white

A coriander or flat parsley leaf to garnish (optional)


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Fine strainer
  • Coupe glass
  • Ice

How to mix

Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously until ice cold. Then strain the cocktail using a ‘fine strainer’ or tea sift, into a chilled cocktail glass, to ensure a smooth and silky finish.

*To make the coriander (cilantro) Bianco Vermouth: add 25g of fresh coriander to 1/4 bottle (250ml) of Gancia Bianco Vermouth. Leave to macerate for 24 hours then strain. This will make more than the amount needed for one cocktail.

**For the rhubarb and ginger cordial: Dissolve 12 parts caster sugar in 12 parts rhubarb juice and 1 part ginger juice. Mix this with 0.5 parts of citric acid solution (i.e. 1 part of citric acid and 5 parts of water). If you can’t get citric acid (also known as lemon sugar in the Middle East) substitute lemon juice. The juice of one lemon is equal to one rounded teaspoon of citric acid. Alternatively there’s a recipe here (although I haven’t had Denzel’s approval on this one yet!)

What to do with your remaining coriander infused Martini Bianco? Make a herby Gin and French by mixing one part gin, one part martini and one part tonic water. Garnish with lime. You could also use it instead of white wine in a risotto. And the rhubarb and ginger cordial is an awesome addition to a glass of fizz.

What’s in your glass this month? Are there any other gripping series I should be watching? And how have you coped with a major life change? All tips appreciated.










  1. September 30, 2016 8:26 pm

    I too have an empty nest but luckily my fledgling is only up in St Andrews. Still, the house is quieter and more still, which I’m not sure if I like or not. I should be used to as this is her third year, but I’m not. Sunday evenings are definitely for cosying up on the sofa (with Andrew and the cat) to watch Poldark. This herbal twist on the classic gimlet sounds most intriguing. Is the coriander bianco vermouth easily available (i.e. can I get it at Waitrose;-))

    • September 30, 2016 8:36 pm

      I feel very far away I must say. Thank heavens for Poldark and the dog! The coriander vermouth is many by infusing the former in the latter. Directions in the method. I’m making some right now!

  2. September 30, 2016 9:20 pm

    As always, Sally, a post that has me salivating and thinking of where to source the ingredients in what you know is a small village on Dartmoor. It’s curious – growing up, I could never stand the taste of gin, standing firmly in the whisky camp. However, it was Dubai that made me appreciate the clean, cutting flavour of a decent gin and now I see whisky as a drink for the deep winter (not too far away for us here in the UK!) rather than an everyday tipple. What I think is fascinating about gin is how far is it removed from its Dutch ancestor jenever, though that is an intriguing glass when in Holland…

  3. October 1, 2016 1:06 am

    What a beautiful drink. And the scurvy-preventing qualities are a great bonus!

  4. October 1, 2016 8:43 pm

    I love the vision of you all curled up on the settee, maybe getting a dog is the answer to empty nest syndrome! The cocktail looks so pretty and the taste sounds amazing too:-)

  5. October 1, 2016 9:26 pm

    I can’t comment on your empty nest as my nest has never had chicks but that variation on a gimlet looks really good!

  6. October 3, 2016 2:18 pm

    My word that cocktail is looking good… I really shouldn’t be hankering after it at 11am on a Monday morning though!!!!! Enjoy that peace and space with your other half… xxx

  7. October 10, 2016 10:31 am

    We are in a similar situation. Two out of three now gone, and the last one barely home these days. We, too, are making more effort to spend time together. As for tv shows – we’ve just discovered The Americans and are loving it!

  8. October 10, 2016 11:44 am

    I think you need to come back and visit here to see all our new craft gins. I love seeing new ones on your blog. As for the empty nest, I cannot offer any advice. But watching good TV and being with KP sounds like a great solution, with this drink to hand of course.

  9. October 19, 2016 1:36 pm

    What a beautiful drink i want one right now


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