Shochu Cocktail Recipe: Thai Kokuto Gimlet

shochu gimlet
shochu gimlet
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5 from 14 votes

Thai Kokuto Gimlet

The Thai Kokuto Gimlet is a Japanese-Thai spin on the classic cocktail, using Nankai Shochu and makrut lime-infused kokuto syrup. Sweet, sour, and a hint of spice.
Prep Time4 hours
Cook Time3 minutes
Total Time4 hours 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: amami kokuto spirits, black sugar, cocktail recipe, gimlet, kaffir lime, kokuto, kokuto syrup, lime juice, makrut lime, nankai shochu, Shochu cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 197kcal
Cost: 5


Thai-Kokuto Syrup

  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ cup Raw Sugar
  • ½ cup Kokuto Black Sugar Replace with raw sugar if no kokuto available.
  • 4-6 Makrut Lime Leaves


  • 3 oz Nankai Shochu
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Thai-Kokuto Syrup
  • 3-6 drops Olive Oil (Optional)


Thai-Kokuto Syrup

  • Combine water, sugar, and kokuto sugar in saucepan.
  • Bring to boil and turn off heat.
  • Add makrut lime leaves and infuse for 4 hours.
  • Refrigerate and syrup will be usable for 10 days.


  • Combine Nankai, syrup, and lime juice in a shaker with ice.
  • Shake vigorously.
  • Strain into coupe glass.
  • Add drops of olive oil (optional) and serve.


Serving: 5oz | Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Potassium: 33mg | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin C: 9.2mg

The Thai Kokuto Gimlet is our Japanese-Thai version of the classic gimlet cocktail. Instead of gin, we use vacuum-distilled Nankai Shochu, which carries citrus and umami-rich flavors well. Combining our shochu with lime juice and a simple syrup made from kokuto sugar (“black sugar”) and a makrut lime leaf infusion, you’ll get a richer and intensely aromatic cocktail.

The beautiful color of Nankai Shochu colored by fresh lime juice
and the caramel brown Thai-Kokuto syrup.

Before we talk about the elements on our take, let’s look at the history of the gimlet. The theory that we like is that the cocktail is named after Sir Thomas Gimlette, the navy surgeon who added lime cordial to gin to combat scurvy. But the gimlet was made famous in Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel The Long Goodbye. The infamous Philip Marlowe said, “A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.” If you’d like to know more, you can find more gimlet history here.

Since the mid-1900s, the gimlet has changed, and these days, you’ll find a number of variations. But for our Japanese gimlet, we don’t even use gin. We use Japanese single-distilled shochu made from kokuto, an unrefined artisanal product known for its full flavor and health benefits. Sure, technically, it’s not a gimlet without the gin, but if you try our recipe for the Thai Kokuto Gimlet, you probably won’t even care.

The makrut lime leaves in the cocktail syrup will conjure images of aromatic spices and intense citrus common to Southeast Asian cuisine. The kokuto black sugar in the syrup will bring a deeper flavor than plain sugar and highlight the lime flavors. Finally, you can add drops of extra virgin olive oil as an option to bring it all together and provide a nice mouthfeel.

Drops of extra virgin olive oil may become your next cocktail addiction.

If you’d like more recipes like this, please check out our Cocktail catalog. Or try these other citrus-based cocktails: