What is lime cordial?

Written by joseph burke
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What is lime cordial?
A lime, soon to be cordial. (lime 4 image by NeptuneTech from Fotolia.com)

Lime cordial is a commonly confused term these days. Often, lime cordial is reduced to a simple lime juice and sugar mix. Professional bartenders and drinking aficionados would beg to differ. Lime cordial is a more complex combination of ingredients that has a long history and, thus, today, a lot of possible uses cocktail-wise.


Lime cordial was invented by Lauchlin Rose who eventually went on to found the famous company that sells--to this day, under new management--Rose's Lime Juice. In order to keep sailors from contracting scurvy from Vitamin C deficiency in the mid-1800s, the British government tended to give all sailors a daily ration of lime juice and rum. Rose discovered a way of preserving lime juice without the need of alcohol and shortly thereafter his Rose's lime cordial was on ships all over the world and in every sailor's daily diet.


There are different recipes for lime cordial. and Rose's does not like to publish its recipe. However, drink enthusiasts have been fiddling with different recipes for homemade lime cordial for quite some time and The Spirit World recommends the following ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of water 3/4 cup of granulated sugar 3/4 tsp of citric acid ( usually available in large supermarkets and is sometimes referred to as "sour salt") 3/8 tsp of tartaric acid (a bit harder to find but generally available at home brewing or home winemaking supply shops or online) The juice of 4 limes or equal to roughly 3/4 cup of lime juice 2 lime rinds


To start, stir the sugar, citric acid and the tartaric acid together. Boil the water and then add the sugar and acid mix. Stir the solution vigorously in order to dissolve the sugar and the acids into the water. Pour in the lime juice and also add the lime rinds to the solution and continue to stir. Leave the mixture on a high heat for one to two minutes, stirring frequently. Let it cool to room temperature and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. Strain out the lime rinds and refrigerate for at least a full day before using. Keep the solution in the refrigerator; it will stay good longer that way.

The Gimlet and Lime Cordial

With lime cordial in hand, whether purchased from Rose's (property of Schwepps since 1957) or the homemade kind, one is ready to put the liquid to use in one of its most famous drinks, the Gimlet. Since lime juice and alcohol (either rum or gin) were used to keep scurvy at bay before Lauchlin Rose created Rose's Lime, the combination was already known and liked. It was therefore a natural step to use lime cordial for a gin cocktail. The gimlet has two ingredients: gin and lime cordial. Sometimes the mixture is 4 rations of gin per 1 ration of lime cordial, but it depends entirely on the drinker and his or her tastes. The gimlet, with Rose's lime cordial as one of its main ingredients, was further cemented into popular culture in 1967 with the help of the Robert Altman film, "The Long Goodbye."

Other Drinks

Lime cordial does not stop at the gimlet, however. There are many other cocktails that count on cordial as a main ingredient. A few of the more popular cocktail recipes that use lime cordial include:

The Absolut Summer Smash includes citron vodka, lime, lime cordial, melon liqueur, mint leaf and orange.

The SoCo and Lime includes Southern Comfort and lime cordial (or sometimes pure lime juice).

The Cinzano Frozen Limetto cocktail includes Cinzano's limetto vermouth, lime cordial and lime juice

The Tequila Slammer is made up of one shot of tequila and one shot of lime cordial. One shoots the tequila first, then shoots the lime cordial.

The Blue Lagoon includes vodka, blue Curacao, lime cordial, lemonade and ice.

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