How to Make Your Own Lime Cordial (Rose’s Lime Juice)

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I’ve always had a pretty serious dilemma with the Gimlet. On one hand, I’ve never really been in love with fresh lime juice Gimlets. There, I’ve said it. But for me, they’ve always lacked this bracing, bitter, tart edge that a Gimlet made with Rose’s Lime has. Those qualities have always stuck in my head as a sort of yardstick for what a Gimlet should taste and feel like, and fresh lime juice and sugar just don’t quite get the drink all the way there.

On the other hand, Rose’s Lime is a terrible product. There’s absolutely nothing natural about it, it’s full of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. I haven’t carried a bottle of Rose’s in my bars for nearly twenty years because it’s so bad. And yet… there are those qualities that make it very unique. Again, it gives a Gimlet (or a Kamikaze, if you’re into that sort of thing – I know I am) a bracing, bitter, tart edge. It’s just the flavor that isn’t any good.

So, me being me, I had to try to find a way around this and come up with a lime cordial that captured those positive qualities of Rose’s, but used fresh, natural ingredients. And believe me, I made about twenty batches of pretty bad facsimiles of Rose’s before I settled on something I could post here.

A lot of bartenders out there adopt the fresh-lime-juice-and-sugar method of making lime cordial. While it’s a really nice idea, fresh lime juice and sugar in no way captures the tartness and bitterness of a proper lime cordial. Other recipes out there call for fresh lime zest, which is definitely a step in the right direction, yet I still found something missing from those recipes.

Lime juice by itself isn’t tart enough to ever make a lime cordial that stands up next to Rose’s. It’s like the Amaretto Sour recipe from a few years back: no matter how much amaretto I used, the drink was never strong enough, which is why I needed an assist from cask-strength bourbon. In the case of lime cordial, you need a boost from citric acid.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is completely natural and available just about anywhere. It’s used all the time in cooking and baking, and is the ingredient that really makes this lime cordial an improved substitute for Rose’s while accomplishing what Rose’s does right. You can usually find it in a bigger grocery store than has stuff for canning. You can also pick it up at most any homebrew shop. You can also grab it from Amazon.

I didn’t want this to take a lot of time steeping, or require a bunch of special equipment like an immersion circulator, Rotovap, or any of that nonsense: you shouldn’t need to have  some sort of chemistry lab to make a freaking syrup. This should feel like you’re baking, not working in a factory.

So in short, here’s what we want to accomplish with our lime cordial:

  1. It should have all of the good qualities of Rose’s Lime: sweet, bracingly tart, and slightly bitter.
  2. It needs to be made with fresh ingredients, and taste like fresh ingredients.
  3. It needs to be easy to make, and quick to whip up. Letting something sit in a Mason jar for six weeks won’t work for us. This recipe takes about five minutes to make.
  4. It’s gotta be f*cking delicious.

So here’s the recipe I’ve landed on. It satisfies all of the above requirements, and when tasted side-by-side with Rose’s it still captures the intent of Rose’s while improving greatly upon it.


Weigh out your sugar. If you don’t have a scale it’s about 8 oz/240 ml. But I always recommend the weighing.


Grate some lime peel. It’s about one large or two small limes’ worth of peel. Get yourself a microplane. I use mine all the time and they’re cheap.


Squeeze the lime juice. Again, it’s about one large or two small limes’ worth of juice. Convenient, no?


Measure out the citric acid. Self-explanatory.


Get that water hot. Doesn’t need to be a rolling boil, just good and hot. And yes, you can do this in a minute and a half in the microwave. This is exactly what a microwave is for.


Mix it all together. You can let it sit for days and days to infuse that lime peel into the syrup, or you can throw it in a blender on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Guess which method I prefer?


Strain it with a fine-mesh strainer and bottle it. That’s it!

So now that you’ve got a delicious lime cordial, how about a Gimlet? The recipe on the side of the Rose’s bottle is pretty good, it calls for 1½ oz/45 ml gin to 1 oz/30 ml lime cordial. It’s actually a pretty solid Gimlet recipe and it’s the one I use with this homemade lime cordial, though you might like to bump up the gin to 2 oz/60 ml for a stronger drink. I grabbed one of my favorite Gimlet gins, and I can’t say that I’ve ever been happier with a Gimlet.

For more on the Gimlet, check out my dear friend Gabriel Daun’s in-depth article here – he’s one of the most knowledgable people in the business and it’s a fascinating read, even if he does (correctly) dis my Richmond Gimlet, and even though my lime cordial recipe is better than his. 😉

Cheers, friends!

Lime Cordial Print Me

  • 250g sugar
  • 8 oz/240 ml hot water
  • 1½ oz/45 ml fresh lime juice (measured by volume)
  • 1½ oz/45 ml freshly grated lime peel (measured by volume)
  • 1 oz/30 ml citric acid (measured by volume)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Strain with a fine strainer.
  4. Bottle and refrigerate.

Recipe printed courtesy of

77 Replies to “How to Make Your Own Lime Cordial (Rose’s Lime Juice)”

  • Rich says:

    If you didn’t add water, you wouldn’t need citric acid. At a pH of 2.5, lime (and lemon) juice is more that tart enough.
    Otoh, grapefruit and orange cordials certainly need citric acid to get the pH down below 3.
    Also, by peeling strips rather than grating, you end up with confited zest that can be used in desserts or dehydrated/ground for various purposes.
    Finally, cordials are fantastic for making -ades (lemonade, limeade, orangeade…)

    Here’s my recipe:
    5# limes
    ~ 3 cups sugar

    1. Peel zest of limes into gallon ziptop bag with 2 cups of sugar. Allow to marinate for 2 hours . Behold, oleo saccharum!
    2. Juice fruit. 3. Measure juice. Add sugar to zest so volume matches juice, i.e. if there are 3 cups of juice, then add 1 cup of sugar.
    3. Strain juice into bag. Squeeze out air and seal. Turn back and forth to help sugar dissolve. Refrigerate 24 hours.
    4. Strain zest from cordial. Refrigerate additional 24 hours.

    I make my gimlet with 1/2 oz cordial and 2 oz of barrel aged gin (Old Tom).

    • Glad you found a substitute you enjoy making and drinking! We tried essentially the same method and we all agreed that it wasn’t what we were looking for in a lime cordial at all. “Overly limey lime syrup flavored with more lime” was one of the actual tasting notes 😀

      • Rich says:

        You should discuss the process you used and the various tasting notes that came back. That would be quite interesting.
        And I’m sorry that limes taste too much like limes 😉
        I find that what is effectively a citrus simple syrup is quite useful as a replacement for simple syrup in many cocktails. In fact, replacing simple with blood orange cordial is the secret to my amaretto sour.

        • If the goal was to just make a syrup that tastes good, then yeah, I could have made pretty much whatever. But you don’t make an apple better by just eating a pear.

          However, the goal here was to make a syrup that replicated the positive qualities of Rose’s while using real ingredients. And that goal isn’t possible using the process you described.

  • Tim says:

    I’ve been looking for a sugar-free version of Rose’s for years and just gave up. I think I’m going to try this recipe with erythritol or xylitol and see how it goes.

    • Yes!! Be sure to report back with your findings if you can!

      • Marielle says:

        I didn’t have citric acid so substituted some lemon crystal light pure– was then able to go way down on the sugar content and with some tweaks (eg, increased the lime zest to make sure it was the dominant flavor) it’s awesome. It’s also a great limey color.

  • Lucas England says:

    Shelf Life? or fridge life?

    • Not entirely sure as I just finalized the recipe yesterday. I’ll have to let some sit in the fridge and see how it fares. Though my guess is that it’ll have a long shelf life thanks to the citric acid.

  • Michael Robertson says:

    Thanks Jeff. I really don’t like the lime juice, simple syrup gimlet at all and Rose’s is just awful.
    A good Rose’s substitute has been one of those things that I’ve thought about often but never got around to playing with.

  • Tim says:

    Gimlets with this cordial sounds like a wonderful way to spend this hotter than hell Portland afternoon.

    Any insight as to your favorite Gimlet Gins? Lucky enough to snag a bottle of Sipsmith VJOP, may give that a shot.

    • That sounds delicious to be honest. I used Tanqueray Rangpur at home and it was wonderful.

      • Tim says:

        Just got done making the cordial and been a while since I’ve tried Rose’s, but this feels dead nuts on and it tastes incredibly good. Not blowing smoke here, in terms of ease of making vs the result I can’t envision that a more involved recipe would be enough of an improvement, if at all, to make it worthwhile.

        Will be interesting to see how it tastes and holds up over time. I have to believe that the tartness and the sweetness will hold up fine, will the lime? It’s more likely I will go through it too quickly to even worry about it though.

        Thanks for the recipe!

        • Damn, dude! You made it already?! That’s awesome! Thanks for the feedback, I was pretty stoked with how it turned out myself. And yeah, I haven’t had any last long enough to see how it holds up over time. I guess I’ll have to experiment with it!

  • Spencer says:

    I like to save on waste and hold on to my spent lime halves after juicing. Weigh them out and add even weight in white sugar. Allow to macerated until all sugar turns to liquid. Strain and use. Probably not as scientifically thorough as yours and poasibly much more bitter but carries great bitter qualities macerating with all the rinds. And other than allowing natural maceration, it’s pretty time friendly bc it’s just juicing and putting the discard pieces in a cambro and weighing it.

  • Made this last night. Great recipe, Jeff!

    Made a 5:1 Gimlet with Old Raj which was epic. Just the right balance of sweet, sour and gin.

  • Will says:

    Did you happen to experiment with coriander/cardamom – something along the lines of The 12 Bottle Bar recipe? This spring I whipped up a big batch of the recipe after watching distinguished spirits’ video on it and it was damn good. Only problem was, I didn’t want to make it again hah.

    This week I might just have to A/B test this recipe with/without steeping coriander and cardamom in the 8oz hot water while zesting.


  • Jake says:

    Ok dude, now all you have to do is mass produce, bottle and sell wholesale. Within just a few quick years your wonderful recipe will have been modified by a ceo with even more chemicals than roses. Since it will still have your name on it, it will still sell in target and Whole Foods!

  • Cameron says:

    Just made this. It’s so easy and so good…the value-to-effort ratio is absurdly high. The only downside is how quickly the gimlets we made with it are disappearing. Dangerous stuff!

  • Tony says:

    Hmm, looks like after having just a couple of these, it becomes impossible to take criticism. I’ll have to try a few, adjust the recipe, and get back to you.

    • I’m sure we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

      • Tony says:

        Hey now, I’m sure we think that’s sarcasm. To come up with something better, I figured I’d just copy the ingredients from Rose’s Lime Cordial which is Sugar or HFCS, Water, Lime Juice, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, a preservative and color. Seeing as how I’d be making it for home use and refrigerating any unused, I’d skip the preservative and I don’t care if it’s super green so I’d probably drop the color. But when I looked at the ingredients of Rose’s, it looks like you looked first. Seeing as they patented their recipe in 1867, it’s a smart move. But, in case you haven’t seen their ingredient deck:
        Ingredients (as diluted): Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Lime Juice Concentrate, Sodium Metabisulfite, Natural Flavors, Blue 1


    • Steve Blumert says:

      Hi. I tried the recipe but found that it was too sour and did not have the tart tasty tang that I enjoy. I tried diluting the syrup with more alcohol and even some club soda but it still didn’t work for me. Let me know whether you have any modifications. I’m always ready to try a new gimlet and I do appreciate your website. Thank you

  • Nathan says:

    You Americans sure do have some disgusting crap on your grocery store shelves. Rose’s Lime Cordial in the rest of the world is made with lime juice, sugar, citric acid, and a couple of preservatives/colours – basically a mass-produced version of your recipe here.

  • Katie says:

    Are you shaking or stirring your gimlets with this cordial?

  • Michael says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I just made it and it tastes great. Not to mention, it solves one of the life’s contradictions: Rose’s is gross but gimlets are great. Question on the text vs. the print recipe in the post, I microplaned 2 medium limes but got nowhwere near 1.5 ounces of zest. I assume the 1.5 ounces is a typo? Thanks again.

  • Ryan says:

    This is a much easier recipe than what I’ve used before, thanks!

    What do you think the shelf life of this is?

  • Angie says:

    Could this be made with stevia or truvia for a diabetic who still likes vodka gimlets ?

  • Michael says:

    Great recipe, I have made it multiple times. Gimlets are a family standard and this cordial is hands down the best. Try substituting one of the limes, both zest and juice, for a blood orange. It makes a beautiful red colored cordial and a fabulous pink gimlet, which I call a Martyr’s Gimlet

  • Jeremy says:

    So I’m a pragmatic home-bar kind of guy, not really interested in a lot of homemade cordials or flavored liqueurs. But this is just the kind of “large gain, small effort” project I’m always on the lookout for.

    So I’ve made this a few times in the last few months, and it’s a really winner, both for my picky taste, and a crowd-pleaser for my guests. I think part of the magic is that it tastes like limes smell, which is something more than just sweetened lime juice.

    My ONLY criticism is that the suggested ratio makes it much, much sweeter than I prefer. My preferred ratio (with Broker’s gin) is 1.5 oz of gin to 0.5 oz of cordial, which actually is pretty close to the ratio in the linked article by Gabriel Daun, and arguably makes it more “tart, masculine and a little bitter”, as he suggests.

    But that’s just a style point. Thanks so much for sharing this! I appreciate the down-to-earth nature of your blog posts.

  • Allison Carlson says:

    If I’m making this syrup with the intent to serve that evening (and only that evening), is the citric acid necessary? I assumed it was only for preserving, but want to make sure I’m not missing something. Also, love that you made a healthier version for the gimlet! We’re always looking for ways to eliminate hfcs, etc.

  • Les Lynn says:

    This is an excellent recipe. I tried it out tonight. Brilliant. I’ll be making it for the cocktail party I am holding for 40 people tomorrow, one with a 70s/80s theme. I drank Gimlets back then, made with Rose’s. I’ve matured, I’ll say, serving them now with your cordial. Thank you.

  • Nancy says:

    Just made this – came out perfect following re recipe exactly! I love me a gimlet—and in this hot Texas heat, a nice lager over ice with a generous amount of your mix = heaven!

  • Andy says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll definitely have to try. I just recently made a lime syrup by infusing a simple syrup (1/2 cup each of water and sugar) with the grated peel of four large limes. I boiled the syrup for 10 minutes and then hot strained it. Clearly there is no acidity, but it imparted the lime flavor and the particular bitterness of Roses, so I am likely going to start with that approach as a base.
    One thing that I have long wondered about is whether the addition of lime juice alone makes a cordial. I think that traditionally a cordial is alcohol based. So, have you perhaps tried a method of using grain alcohol to extract the lime zest? This is akin of how Limoncello is made. It does require that dreaded infusion for days, but high proof alcohol (180 proof) is so much better at extracting flavors, it may just be worthwhile. After all, it’s hard to ignore the result you get with Limoncello.

  • Kayod3 says:

    I too much like lime cordial, but how can i get it in ondo state?

  • Joe says:

    If the flavor fades in a couple of days is it worth making?

  • Ashish Shah says:

    Looks like they’ve updated the site to the Gabriel Daun article, new direct (english) link is:

    And no, I’m not looking up articles to find fun projects to keep me occupied while I may or may not be spending more time at home. Why do you ask? (thank you for all of your knowledge sharing/books/etc!)

  • Federico Sardi says:

    Browsing through Baker’s “The South American Gentlemen’s Companion” I came across a recipe that calls for “Rose’s unsweetened lime cordial”. What could that be? Sounds like… lime juice/lime juice+lime zest infused? I’m a bit confused.


  • Prudence Daniels says:

    Oh dear. I just spilled a little and it took more restraint than it should have to keep from licking it off of the counter. Just made my first gimlet and I don’t know where they’ve been all of my life. I’m in trouble now. Thank you for the superb recipe!

  • Dillon says:

    Any consensus on a shelf life for syrups made in this fashion?

  • Bernie says:

    OK thanks for this, really, not. I now need to make this by the gallon and there’s no way in hell that I’m zesting 1000 limes. ;=>. You mentioned using dried lime zest – do you use it 1:1 or is it too concentrated? Just trying to figure out how much I need to order.


  • Bernie Krause says:

    And of course I can’t find the reference. It was in regards to making larger quantities and you couldn’t afford the time to zest hundreds of lemons and limes. No big deal, I’ll figure it out. 🤔

  • Joel Buchmann says:

    If I wanted to make this ginger lime do you think adding ginger juice or blending in some pieces of ginger and then straining be better for the overall end product?

  • Penny Horn says:

    I make big batches of cordial and it freezes well in small bottles. Plan to try this with fresh mint infused…anyone else tried this? Any tips?!

  • Valerie Marak says:

    There’s a product called TrueLime (True Citrus is the maker and they also sell lemon, orange, and grapefruit crystallized flavors) which is the best “true” citrus flavoring I’ve found, and NO sugar. It comes in packets and shakers. Both can be subject to moisture binding it, but it’s still ok once you’ve unstuck it from the packet, or carved some out of the shaker (should probably add a tiny desiccant/silica gel pack post opening).

    Usually it’s in the grocery store near the bar mix things, or perhaps the aisle containing dry mixes for lemonade, etc.,but I’ve bought it through Amazon because stores don’t carry all the flavors.

    The ingredients are “true” because there’s nothing but:
    Crystallized Lime (citric acid, lime oil, lime juice)
    ^^according to the website.

    I’ve used it in cooking, baking, and soda water or quinine water to jazz it up, but I’m wondering if it could be made into a syrup since it already has citric acid in it. I know, the fresh flavor would not be there, but this stuff is so close!
    P.S. No, I don’t own stock in the company; I just appreciate their product. A lot…

  • Haakon Olav Thunestvedt says:

    Tried out your recipe, but I just used a hand blender for a minute and that worked pretty well. Just tasting it I thoght it was a bit too sweet, but mixing it 5:2 with Sipsmith London dry made a great gimlet. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Glad you liked it. This is a good time to remind everyone that while syrups and cordials on their own might seem “too” sweet, they’re intended to be sweet in order to provide flavor and background when mixed into a cocktail. Don’t adjust sugar levels until you’ve tried them in a cocktail!

  • Joe C says:

    Just made this after getting a recommendation from How to Drink on YouTube. It’s a great recipe. Tastes super natural, full lime flavor, good tartness, though I have to say I didn’t notice a stark difference between the cordial gimlet and one made with fresh lime and simple. I will likely use the cordial for gimlets in the future because it does seem like the flavors blend a little better and seem to be more in balance, and you do get that slight bitter note from the cordial that is missing from the juice and simple version. Probably only worth it to the true cocktail enthusiast. Either way, great recipe, Jeffrey!

  • Mauricio says:

    Amazing recipe. Bells and whistles seem to be the norm everywhere and then I found your recipe. It is simple and great. Certainly the result of hours of trial, error, mistakes, and practice from a master. Thanks for sharing

  • Will Kaufman says:

    Jeff, your recipe is amazing. I’ve now made probably 10 batches of this and shared the recipe with others who are now making batches of their own and thinking at the least I need to make double batches because it disappear so quickly. Reading the comments I would tend to agree that one could work up from a 2 to 1 ratio. My current summer version is starting with a 2 to 1 using Tanqueray and then adding some Q tonic to top off the pint glass full of ice. Not bad. I was intrigued also the fact that roses apparently makes internationally non-corn syrup sweetened lime juice. Imagine. Thanks for sharing. Will

  • Joshua Evans says:

    Great experiment! I made your recipe, did a comparison with the U.S. version of Rose’s, and it was pretty close only brighter and fresher tasting.

    For my tastes, it did seem like it was a little heavy on the citric acid and a bit too sweet. This isn’t a knock against your recipe, since you were trying to match the U.S. version of Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice.

    I did some research of my own, and as others have commented, there are differences in the formulation by country. The U.K. version doesn’t have HFCS, and it isn’t quite as sweet. If you look at the nutrition facts, the U.S. version has 0.4 g of sugar/ml, and the U.K. version has 0.25 g/ml. I also noticed that the U.K. label notes that the cordial has 5% lime juice in its diluted form (4:1). I decided to do some reverse engineering, and I think I found a recipe that’s more to my liking, and (I think) closer to the U.K. version. It has a lot more lime juice, less sugar, and a bit less citric acid (though total finished volume is not the same either):

    -115 g sugar
    -270 ml hot water
    -120 ml fresh lime juice (measured by volume)
    -45 ml freshly grated lime peel (measured by volume)
    -15-20 ml citric acid (measured by volume)(I recommend starting with 15 ml (1 tbs) and adding more, if needed).

    -Prepare per the Jeffrey Morgenthaler recipe.

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