Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

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It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Gimlet

While recently reading Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, I was inspired to:
a)   try one of the Gimlet cocktails the characters kept slamming down, and;
b)  write a piece of short fiction, in the voice of Raymond Chandler.

I had a go at both, and present each here for you to enjoy.  Make the drink, then read the short story!  It didn't make the cut for my new collection Tales of the Dark (just sent to the printer's ~ due out in December), but may whet your appetite for my soon to be released book anyway.

Bon appetite!

The Gimlet Cocktail

You can use vodka or gin in this recipe.  In the Long Goodbye, they drink gin Gimlets, using 'Rose's Lime Juice'

Travelling food writer Tom Tacker tells me Rose's Lime Juice is a West Indian cordial you can't buy in Melbourne... and that it is much more tart than normal Lime Juice cordial. However, you can achieve the same effect by combining lime juice with lime cordial (Schweppes / Hartford's Lime, etc.) in a 50-50 mix.

Or, you might like to be even more traditional / ye olde and use lime juice and sugar syrup, if you can be bothered.

I particularly love the fact a drink I've been enjoying for years (a vodka, lime and ice) has a name, "the Gimlet". A gimlet is a tool used to bore holes in wood.  Do not confuse this with a Gauntlet, the glove used in jousting competitions, and – apparently – a cocktail containing bourbon, gin, rum, Southern Comfort, and Jagermeister (i.e. only to be thrown down as a challenge).

To wit, the recipe:

Gimlet Recipe (makes 2)
5 measures (preferably from the freezer) of good quality gin.
1.5 measures lime juice cordial
1.5 measures lime juice
Pour over ice in shaker, shake and pour into chilled cocktail glass.  Serve garnished with a slice of lime.

Vodka Gimlet: Use vodka
Basil Gimlet:  Introduce some finely chopped basil to the cocktail
The Raymond Chandler dirty Gimlet:  add some bitters, and talk to a baddie from Blighty who has emigrated to Mexico.

Ready? Got your drink?  Great!  Now, for some light reading.  Prepare your mind as though in Depression Era L.A., and that you're hanging out inside the mind of a Private Detective...



I was feeling like a bum. A bum with a sore head. Maybe I should start at the beginning. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, go back to the beginning and work your way forwards, thinking, and maybe, just maybe, something will pop out of the woodwork. You remember a clue, some kind of salient fact, that shoulda let you know where you’d taken a wrong turn.

The broad should have been a good sign that things were going wrong faster than a Jewish bris with a butter knife. You’re not supposed to mix your meat and dairy for a start.

This frail was something else. A knock out. Dark hair to her shoulders, eyes that positively smouldered when they looked at you, like a couple of smoking guns.

‘Cigarette?’ She offered me a gold box.  Imports.

‘No thanks. I only like my own brand.’ I lit us both and turned back to my drink. It never happened, but it seemed to happen all the time. A lone woman in a bar, coming and talking to me. Making a line of enquiry, maybe trying to find out if I was a wrong sort, a bad g, or if she could trust me to take her home and pay for the cab.

Maybe she already knew who I was? It’s hard in this game, you see so many different faces, and they never forget yours at the end of the job.

Me? I got a pretty good memory, but they can always send a messenger.

‘What are you drinking?’ Just like that, out of the blue, walking into a darkened club and asking what I'll have. What are the chances?

High, if they’re there for a reason.

I sized her up.  If it was a bait, it certainly was a tasty one. Her lips were red, and she was back lit. Five foot six in green silk and a sexual vibe you could feel across the room. Put it within three feet, and it was like a vibraphone doing a marimba in your pants.

‘A Gimlet.’

‘Vodka or gin?’


She waved to the bartender and got us two of the same.  My guard was down and I let her take it further in that direction.  I’d been working on a fraud case for a department store, and it was nice to have some company. That whole situation had been pretty messy: it had the manager playing hooky with a month’s payroll, running away with a perfume counter beauty - and me cast in the role of corporate avenger.

Personally, I would have done the same in his shoes. The sound of Hawaiian guitars'd be pretty alluring, with all that moolah in a bag, and a girl on your arm. But business had to go on.  All the lunch pail haulers and clock punchers had got to be paid.  So they sent for me.  And I got my man.  Even some of the money back for them. The poor bastard was crying when they took him away, and I'd felt like a heel.  The girl had lit out with some guy she met at a club. Probably just like this one, but maybe not so lousy.  The drink was helping me forget.

'So, what's your name?' she asked, dark and smokey, sultry-like.

‘Listen, what do you want to talk to me for?’ I asked. ‘You got looks. Any man in this place would cut his throat to talk to you.’

'But none of them drink Gimlets.'


Tales of the Dark, Kit Fennessy's new book of short stories, is due for release in December.  The above story was not one of them.  Visit:
to order your copy in December!