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thyme gimlets

How is it already the end of December? It feels like just last week we were enjoying pumpkin pie and stuffing at Thanksgiving, and yet somehow 2016 is only a day away. It has been a festive month for us, with holiday sing-alongs, Hanukkah latke parties, and a brief but lovely trip up to Portland to visit family for Christmas. But before the year is over, we have one last recipe to share with you. New Years Eve is tomorrow night, and we have the perfect cocktail for your celebration—a deliciously refreshing drink, wintry, ice-cold, and an aromatic twist on a familiar classic: thyme gimlets.

The inspiration for this drink came from David Lebovitz, who has a recipe on his site for Rosemary Gimlets. A few weeks ago, we had some friends over for a rosemary and thyme gimlet party (which naturally concluded with a viewing of Back to the Future!). Both drinks were a hit, but the thyme and citrus worked so well together, that we had to share this winning combination. A gimlet is a popular cocktail made of gin and lime that often uses simple syrup. Here, we infuse that simple syrup with fresh thyme leaves, enhancing it with its aromatic fragrance and lively flavor. The thyme syrup is incredibly easy to prepare, plus it stays fresh for weeks, so you can make it ahead of time, and it will be ready whenever cocktail hour arrives… which came for us at 10 am yesterday morning when we were photographing these sophisticated beverages.

With the syrup prepared ahead of time, these cocktails take less than 30 seconds to make. You simply shake your favorite gin with a splash of lime juice and thyme syrup, pour it into a chilled glass, top with a sprig of thyme, and that’s it. If you have a large number of guests, bottled lime juice will save you time and works great. But if you are having just a few people over, it is worth the extra few minutes to juice the limes yourself. Adding a fresh sprig of thyme is an essential garnish, because even though the syrup is infused with its flavor, the fresh herb gives the cocktail depth, and a pleasant minty fragrance as you sip from the glass. Not to mention the festive green color that contrasts with the white luminous glow of this frosty drink. Classically elegant, yet bright with a modern twist, this light and refreshing drink is the perfect way to ring in the new year and a sweet way to begin 2016.

Thyme Gimlets

For the thyme syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (about 4g) chopped thyme leaves

For each thyme gimlet:
1/4 cup gin
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons thyme syrup
thyme sprig, for garnish

Make the thyme syrup:
In a small pan, combine the sugar, water, and thyme leaves and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup just begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and let cool completely in the pan. Then strain syrup and place in a small container. Refrigerate until needed. Makes about 3/4 cup, enough for about 8 gimlets.

Assemble the gimlets:
Place a cocktail glass in the freezer for a few minutes. Combine the gin, lime juice, and thyme syrup in a shaker, fill halfway with ice, and shake for 20 to 30 seconds. Pour into the chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a sprig of thyme. Repeat as needed for additional servings.