Syrup experimentation

Inspired by this post, by Sam Kinsey on eGullet, I decided to make a lime syrup for gimlets. Jen and I both enjoy gimlets, but I haven’t made them in a long while because I wasn’t too crazy about the way I’ve made them. I’ve tried gin and Rose’s, but that’s too sweet and artificial tasting. I’ve tried gin and lime, but that’s way too bracing. Gin, lime, and simple syrup works well, but it’s not quite right either.

I googled around for a bit and found a recipe at the BBC site, for a lime syrup to serve over pineapple. The recipe called for cardamom pods, which intrigued me because I thought the cardamom would play well with gin and lime.

I tinkered just a bit with the proportions, and the next time I make it, I’ll definitely play around the ingredients–perhaps leaving out the water and doubling the lime juice, adding a couple of juniper berries with the cardamom, and so forth. Also, because this was formulated as a food syrup rather than a drinks syrup, the recipe didn’t advise me to strain the cardamom from the syrup. Jen and I don’t mind pod floaters in our drinks, but if I were serving these for company, I’d certainly want to strain out the herbs.

I’m also trying to think about other applications of this syrup. It would go great with rum, for example, but I’m happy to hear other ideas.

Anyway, here’s the recipe:

Cardamom Lime Syrup

  • 8 oz superfine sugar
  • 8 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
  • 4 oz water
  • 4 oz lime juice
  • 1 tbsp grated lime zest or to taste


  1. Put the superfine sugar, cardamom pods, lime juice, and water in a pan. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Take off the heat and allow to cool before adding the lime zest.

7 thoughts on “Syrup experimentation

  1. I’ve got to try this, thanks for the recipe and modification suggestions. I’d try mixing it in with cream, whipping the cream, and using it to top a waffle. I had a Calvados-flavored whipped cream on a waffle the other week and it was fantastic.

    Also, over vanilla ice cream.


  2. Hi Michael. Glad you liked the idea.

    I got the idea for lime (or orange, grapefruit, etc.) zest syrup from Audrey Saunders. She makes hers simply by zesting (microplaning) a lime or two into a cup or two of regular old 1:1 simple syrup, letting it cold-infuse for a few days until the flavor is what she wants, and then straining out the zest through a fine strainer. This makes a fine syrup, with a soft lime flavor and aroma.

    I do mine a little differently. First, I like to infuse the zest into a few ounces of 100 proof vodka for maybe 15 minutes before adding that to the room temperature simple syrup for a day or two. This results in a more aggressive extraction of lime oils, and the result is a bit more pungent — perhaps what I might call “muddled lime syrup.” In addition, I use a 2:1 simple syrup for longer shelf life with a touch of corn syrup for stability.

    For something that’s maybe a little closer to Rose’s, I’ve toyed with the idea of adding a drop of vanilla extract to the syrup. The cardomom idea sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I’m crazy about the idea of cooking the syrup — especially with lime juice in there. I’d think of toasting the cardomom, infusing into a little alcohol (along with the lime zest) and then into room temperature simple syrup until you get the flavor you want.

    In making gimlets, I substitute equal parts lime syrup and fresh lime juice for Rose’s. It’s also important to use a high proof gin (Plymouth Navy Strength is really the best).


    – Sam


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