July 1, 2021

Calamansi Pandan Gimlet

Calamansi Pandan Gimlet

To quench your thirst in the tropics, we would make limeades using all the citrus fruits we had at our disposal in Singapore, the most popular of which was the calamansi lime. These grew all over the island in small bushes and as a child, I would pluck as many as I could, cut them in half and dip them in a bowl of sugar. This paired with pandan leaves, an aromatic herb with hints of vanilla and coconut make for the perfect summer cocktail.

What exactly are Calamansi Limes? 

Calamansi limes are small green limes with a golden orange interior. They're native to South East Asia and are in general sweeter than regular limes and less acidic. Smaller than key limes in size, these limes are grown in bushes and are used to garnish both savory and sweet foods. One popular drink to combat the humidity and heat in Singapore is the iced calamansi lime juice, which is available at any hawker center across the country.

What are pandan leaves? 

Pandan is a herb which imparts flavors of vanilla, coconut and rose, and has been cultivated for home cooks in both South and South East Asia for centuries. No longer found in abundance in the wild, this grassy plant with its long blade-like leaves are easily grown at home with just a little bit of care. In Singapore, while the use of pandan in savory dishes like the iconic Chicken Rice provides a subtle but important herbaceous note in the background, the aromas of pandan truly shine through when used in Singapore’s most popular traditional desserts, one of which is the Pandan Chiffon Cake. This light green pillowy soft cake is typically sold by the slice in almost all local bakeries across the island and is a childhood favorite.

Calamansi Pandan Gimlet

Looking for a summer cocktail with flavors from South East Asia? This gimlet hits the perfect spot!


Shilpa Iyer













For the Pandan Simple Syrup:

  • 3 fresh or frozen pandan leaves, tied into a knot
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For the Gimlet

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz calamansi lime juice
  • 1 oz pandan simple syrup


For the Pandan Simple Syrup

  1. Place the sugar, water and pandan leaves in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup it at a boil, turn the heat off.
  4. Cover and steep for 6 hours.
  5. Strain into a clean air-tight jar and discard the pandan leaf.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

For the Calamani Lime Gimlet

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Using a jigger, measure out the cocktail ingredients and place them in the shaker.
  3. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds until the shaker becomes too cold to handle.
  4. Pour into a coupe glass and garnish with a piece of pandan leaf.
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