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Want to make my own lime cordial (Rose's Lime Juice)

I'm gradually eliminating all products with high fructose corn syrup from my diet. This month, it's time to stop buying Rose's Lime Juice. So, no more classic vodka gimlets for me!

Does anyone have a recipe for a replacement?


P.S. I found this recipe on wikipedia, but I'm not sure I want to buy a supply of citric acid and tartaric acid just for the occasional cocktail.


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  1. This sounds pretty good. Citric acid and tartaric acid aren't hard to find. (I think you could use cream of tartar). Also, I would make a half or 1/3 recipe of this at the most b/c it will be quite a bit as is. Let us know what happens.

    1. Anne, my favorite bar makes a gimlet with fresh lime juice and simple syrup. I'd say, just squeeze a few limes. Separately, make a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, cooked down). You could either mix that to taste or keep them separate and mix them right as you're making your gimlet. That's about as real as it gets! Enjoy!

      1. I'd give the recipe from katecm a try. I recently made my own grenadine since I abhor using HFCS and the Rose's has it as the #1 ingredient. I used the cold method which basically means shaking equal parts POM pomegranate juice and sugar in a jar and then adding two more tablespoons of sugar and shaking again. It turned out great and I'd think you could try something similar with lime juice.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ExercisetoEat

          That sounds great! I might try that to make the husband's Manhattans more special.

          One more thing - I had a margarita this week that had part of an egg white shaken in. In a gimlet, this might make it frothy and fun if you're feeling adventurous!

          1. re: katecm

            Have you ever had a Pisco Sour? Love those - in part, b/c of the egg white ...

        2. To follow up - I've tried the lime-juice-and-sugar-syrup approach, and it's just not the same. It's good for what it is, but it doesn't have that "je ne sais quoi" of Rose's Lime Juice. (Mais je sais exactement ce que c'est - it's that citric and tartaric acid!) I think I'll have to bite the bullet and try the wikipedia recipe.

          So *where* does one buy citric acid and tartaric acid? I don't recall seeing them at my local grocery store, but perhaps I haven't looked on the right shelf.


          5 Replies
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I think you can find citric acid at Asian grocery stores. I don't know where to find tartaric acid. Have you experimented with thicker natural sweetners like agave sugar, palm sugar, or sugar in the raw? Since corn syrup is something like seven times sweeter than sugar I would think that part of what is missing from a mix of lime juice and simple syrup is that candy-like mouthfeel coating of sweetness.

            1. re: AnneInMpls

              any natural foods store that sells spices in bulk should have citric acid and probably tartaric acid. that way you can just buy the amount you need.

              1. re: AnneInMpls

                Citric Acid is found in the canning supplies section in stores like Walmart, Food City, etc. Tartaric acid is simply Cream of Tartar which you will find on any spice aisle in all grocery stores. You need NOT shop at the expensive store.

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Both can be found at online and brick-and-mortar homebrew shops. Most b-and-m ones sell in small quantities. Bakers, brewers, cheesemakers and others use citric acid.

                  1. re: travelerjjm

                    Yup - I found my supply of tartaric acid and citric acid at a brewer supply store five years ago. A small bottle of each will last me for many decades!

                2. What about combining fresh lime juice with agave juice?

                  1. Hi Anne,
                    I, too, am trying to eliminate HFCS from my diet. While in Canada over the Christmas holidays I bought a bottle of Rose's Lime Cordial at a grocery store. It is made with sugar (like US-available Rose's Lime Juice _used_ to be). There are a number of online sources that will ship RLC to you, just Google "rose's lime cordial" in quotes. If I run out of RLC before going back to Canada, I will buy it online. It's definitely worth it--the first time I accidentally drank a gin gimlet with the HFCS Rose's I knew they had changed the recipe--ikky mouth "feel" and aftertaste. Like some of your other responders I had tried to capture the cordial taste with simple syrup and lime juice. I find it impossible to strain the results finely enough to create a true lime syrup. BTW, Canada still produces all kinds of soft drinks and other products with sugar instead of HFCS, including Rose's Grenadine.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Bluehen

                      Kari, thank you for this brilliant tip!!!! I have family in Canada, so I am now making it a requirement that anyone visiting me MUST bring a case of Rose's Lime Juice. (It used to be a case of Fudgee-O's cookies, but they're full of trans-fats - even in sainted Canada - so they have been banned.)

                      My dad is visiting in July - I'll start mentioning the Rose's requirement now. And I just might plan my own jaunt to Winnipeg this spring. (Yeah, OK, I could mail-order, but a road trip would be much more fun.)


                      P.S. Another benefit of life in Canada - Barq's Root Beer doesn't contain caffeine. Such a civilized society!

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        Anne, I'm just seeing your quest in August of '11-- wondering if you found true satisfaction with your Canadian Rose's. I'll admit that, as a HFCS avoider myself, I tried the same switch, but to the UK van, also cane sugar-- and I wasn't thrilled with it, as it tasted too thin and "fresh." I would never have thought "Fresh" would be anything but a plus, but I realized that part of what I love in Rose's is the "cooked" flavor. To me, lime juice and simple syrup it perfectly fine in a drink, just not what I want in a Gimlet!

                        After some experimentation (starting with a recipe from a blogger whose name I'll have to look up), I've come up with what I think is a really good alternative.

                        Zest, and then squeeze, a LOT of limes-- may as well make 16 oz of juice, but could do 8 oz if you're suspicious, and fear wasting the effort.

                        You don't really need all the zest from all the limes, but as you'll have a lot of them, do as many as you can stand (wash them well first). Reserve zest.

                        Now boil the lime juice down, reducing it by half. I don't know if it's better to do it fast or slow, but keep an eye on it, and have a heatproof measuring cup at hand. When it looks close to half its former volume, pour into the cup and check. Return to the boil if necessary. I'd say reducing it too much is better than not enough, btw.

                        Now take the 1/2 or previous volume hot lime juice, and add an equal amount of cane sugar, by volume. That is, if it's 8 fl oz of juice, add 8 fl oz sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the zest, and allow to steep for 15 minutes or so, then strain.

                        You might do as I did (and as Rose's does!): add an eensy weeny drop of BLUE FOOD COLORING, and mix well! Suddenly it'll be a pale green, rather than a natural, but sad-looking, yellow. I realize some may find that horrifying, but it's much prettier in the glass.

                        This makes a wonderfully intense, tart lime cordial. I didn't use any citric acid etc., and have had this batch in the fridge for a couple of weeks with no sign of deterioration or mold. The blogger said it would keep indefinitely, and his was equal parts of fresh lime and sugar, just brought to the boil-- so much higher water content (also WAY sweeter). Tonight I poured 1.5 oz gin and 1 oz lime cordial over ice, and topped w soda water in a DOF-- absolutely fantastic!

                        I've made a grapefruit cordial the same way. Looks wonderful (red grapefruit), but the color vanishes in a cocktail. It tasted great, too, by itself-- but used as a sort of gimlet, it's just not tart enough. I've made a couple of great drinks with it, though: a take on the Paloma (tequila, grapefruit cordial, fresh lime and soda), and something I called the GIMLETTE:

                        2 oz white rum, 1 oz grapefruit cordial, 1/2 oz lemon juice, shaken and served up. Delish!

                        By the way-- I'm in Minneapolis, too.

                        1. re: MariaJ.

                          This is great, and makes total sense. Great thinking, and thanks!

                          1. re: MariaJ.

                            I love the idea of grapefruit cordial! That cocktail sounds awesome, as does the idea of "grapefruitade". Thanks!

                            I never did try any Canadian Rose's Lime Juice - kept forgetting to ask and/or look for it when I was there. So I finally bought some citric acid and tartaric acid (found 'em at a home brewing supply store) to make my own lime cordial. Wonderful stuff! The white powders add an essential tartness, but I go really easy on them (too much makes it taste bitter), and I add the lime juice (and zest) after cooling the sugar syrup, because I prefer the taste of uncooked juice. The only problem is that it's so good that I use it for limeade, and it goes way too fast. No worries about long-term storage at my house...

                            [EDIT TO ADD] This is the recipe I use, except I use 7-8 limes, a titch more sugar (i.e., not a doubled amount), and I cut back about 1/3rd for the citric & tartaric acid.


                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                              Wow-- totally different tactic. I'm going to go out and get both those powders this week-- did you check the so-ops, btw? I'll be interested to try them side by side. One thing that's surprised me about my concentrated-juice cordials is how little all that boiling seems to have changed the flavors. Give it a shot sometime and see what you think. The intensity may impress you.

                              Re the Canadian Rose's: I got my UK version (which might be the one the Canadians get) at one of the Brit food online shops. Not expensive, even for a big bottle.

                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                hi anne. i was looking for a substitute for roses to use in a recipe, here is my thinking... set up for heavy syrup (1 part each sugar and water) peal of three limes per cup sugar (just use a vegetable peeler, then take off as much of the pith(icky bitter white stuff) as possible with a knife, lol be careful, watch your fingers). bring to a rapid boil in stainless pan, remove from heat, let steep 5min, strain the peels off, add juice from limes and chill.

                        2. neither citric acid nor tartaric(cream of tartar) are expensive and easily found at the store.

                          1. I know you posted this years ago, but did anyone mention that Rose's in the UK does not contain high fructose corn syrup (it still uses sugar). It's the same in Canada, I believe. There may be someone in the States who imports it for those that care about this or perhaps you could buy it on the internet?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DavidHarris

                              Thanks, David-- I did try it some years ago (detailed above), via some online British food site. I was shocked to find it disappointing! Too "fresh" tasting, which is something I never imagined I'd say-- ha! Making my own, using cane sugar as described above, was the ticket for me. All depends on how you like your Gimlets, of course-- but the UK Rose's didn't have that distinctive "cooked" quality, and was missing the slightly viscous quality which HFCS probably adds to the US version. Mine reminds me of "real" Rose's, but better.

                            2. Interesting thread. Over the years as Mr. judiAU perfected his gimlet we discovered that is impossible to get rid of Roses entirely. He uses lots of fresh lime ans a little of the other. Interested to try your suggestion of a cooked cordial.