Food & Wine’s recipe for a “Classic Vodka Gimlet” jibes with the tool that shares its name: a metal shaft with a grooved screwpoint and a wooden cross handle. Two of the former might make you feel certain you can bore into your companion’s mind to pull a core sample of his true intentions, even if they don’t actually make you “gimlet-eyed” (“sharpsighted,” says Webster’s).

But as its lean moniker suggests, the cocktail can be a simple affair that gets straight to the point (drinking): equal parts sweetened lime juice (Rose’s is run-of-the-mill) and vodka, shaken with ice and strained. You can picture Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly discussing the treachery of Senator Joe McCarthy over a no-frills vodka gimlet.

Cut to Hollywood, where studio execs and stars power-broke at The Ivy, a restaurant that serves lobster claws as an afterthought. The Ivy Gimlet is deservedly as famous as its guests. It’s dolled-up enough to rub elbows with the mojito crowd, but it feels serious — tailored for contract negotiations; too grown-up for pickup night at the local meat market. The secret: a fistful of mint ... and a crushed-ice storm.

The Ivy wouldn’t share its recipe. “We are very low-key, we don’t share anything,” the gentleman on the phone said, but we’ve constructed the cocktail version of a realistic stage set using’s rendition, and our own recent close study at the D-list Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica.

The Ivy Gimlet
(Unofficial Recipe)
1 big sprig mint
Crushed ice
1 shot vodka
½ shot simple syrup OR 1 t powdered sugar
fresh lime juice

Crush a few mint leaves in a shaker with a pestle or the back of a spoon. Add ice, vodka, simple syrup, and a dash of lime juice, and shake until it’s almost too cold to hold with bare hands — or about 15 seconds if you have a nicer shaker than our little metal one. Strain into a bar glass filled with crushed ice. A martini glass won’t do, but a double old-fashion would work nicely. Garnish with a small fistful of mint. If you like your drink a little stiffer, use cubed ice in the shaker rather than crushed, and serve in a chilled glass. Rumor has it that the Ivy uses a little maple syrup, too, a trick we plan to try as soon as we’re off deadline.


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