In the Quiet Hours at Proof + Pantry, Exploring the Magical World of Gimlets

Even though I can't generally afford to drop 30 bucks on a bowl of pasta at Proof + Pantry, I do find myself occasionally wandering into the restaurant in the late afternoon hours. Between lunch and dinner service, Proof + Pantry closes the kitchen but keeps the bar open for a few quiet hours until the dinner rush.

The bar is small and often unoccupied in the afternoon, they play MSNBC instead of Fox News, and the cocktails are on point. It's the perfect place to have an early afternoon drink before braving the traffic up the Dallas North Tollway to my cocktail-deprived neighborhood on the outskirts of Addison. It is also where I discovered exactly how delicious a gin gimlet could really be.

Gimlets are among the cocktail world's simplest and oldest drinks. It's one part sweetened lime juice, initially added to help drunken sailors ward off scurvy, mixed with four parts gin. Or vodka if you're not a fan of gin's floral botanicals. It's a uniquely drinkable spirit-forward cocktail, especially when mixed with a demure, subtle gin like Ford's. At Proof + Pantry, though, I may have been able to come up with a way to make a simple gin gimlet even better, using one of the bar's delectable kitchen-made ingredients.

Since the place I'm opened, I've been a fan of I'm Rich, Proof + Pantry's take on a traditional Hemingway daiquiri. Outside of the characteristic white rum and maraschino, the bartenders here add a decadent lime curd that adds tang, sweetness and a rich mouthfeel. One night, after maybe a few too many cocktails at the bar, I decided that everything I would drink at Proof + Pantry moving forward would always include a generous dollop of that damn addictive lime curd.

Which is exactly when I enthusiastically asked the bartender to make me a "fruity" drink featuring the lime curd, I was pretty taken aback to see that he'd just mixed it with a little gin and fresh lime juice. I was expecting some kind of beautiful cocktail with raspberries and watermelon and godknowswhat else, but I got a tiny glass of cloudy-looking gin. I was less than amused, until I took that first sip.

From there, I knew that I had entered a long-term relationship with one of the softest gin gimlets on the planet. The sweet, butteriness of the lime curd is elevated by the tang of fresh lime juice, and the combination pairs beautifully with the floral flavors in the gin. I also take some comfort in the notion that I will definitely not get scurvy with this double-punch of Vitamin C from the limes. Scurvy sounds terrible.

This Lime Curd Gimlet isn't on the menu at Proof + Pantry, but it probably should be. It would be great if Kyle McClelland could put his crazy-creative culinary brain to work and develop jams, curds and other sauces that would also work well in such a simple cocktail. Imagine how delicious a buttery Meyer lemon or Texas grapefruit curd would be in a gimlet like this.

Fortunately, even though it is not on the menu, the bartenders at Proof + Pantry are expert gimlet makers. Instead of haphazardly pouring gin and lime juice into a shaker, they actually use a jigger to measure out all the elements, including the lime curd. If you go in and ask for a gimlet with lime curd, they'll know exactly what you're talking about. For me, the perfect gin gimlet is made with Ford's or Tanqueray, so don't let them slip any boring Seagram's into your glass.

It is, I admit, entirely possible that I have not at all invented this cocktail, and there are plenty of other Proof + Pantry patrons that frequently order the drink. Still, I'm taking credit for the Lime Curd Gimlet, because it's that damn good.

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