Pimm’s Cup

Pimm's CupPimm’s No. 1, a gin-based British liqueur infused with citrus and spices, was the 19th-century creation of oyster house proprietor James Pimm, who served it in tankards as a health tonic. In the intervening years, Mr. Pimm’s “fruit cups” were bottled and mellowed into a refreshing summer cocktail, typically mixed up with bright UK-style lemonade and fruit as a Pimm’s Cup. Making the rounds at Wimbledon, regattas and other polite sporting events, the caramel-colored cocktails are low in alcohol (No. 1 is about 50 proof) and easy to sip on all afternoon without fear of passing out on the croquet lawn or tumbling off your polo pony. (Such are the perils of the aristocracy.)

Or let’s say, hypothetically of course, that someone has the day off on a Friday when there’s about fifteen to twenty hours of royal wedding coverage on TV. Maybe this someone, despite her avowal of feminism and general good sense, is beyond excited about the big foofy princess wedding and the horse-drawn carriages and the pomp and the circumstance. Hypothetically. In that case, I’d that someone would be in need of refreshments, and a properly British tipple at that. Pimm’s Cup it is.

If we’re following protocol (advisable whilst dealing with the British monarchy), a Pimm’s Cup traditionally follows a 3:1 ratio of mixers to liqueur. You can use 7-Up, as is common in the Colonies, or ginger beer or lemonade, and make one drink at a time or a whole pitcher. I like San Pellegrino’s lemon soda, so I’ve used that, and I let it go a little bit flat before serving. The result tastes balanced, not too sweet, with a hint of herbs and highly refreshing. For a boozier drink, you could always add a few slugs of gin; Hendrick’s would be especially nice, with less juniper and lovely notes of cucumber. Tally ho, cheerio!

Pimm’s Cup
makes one small pitcher

  • half a 750 ml bottle of Pimm’s No. 1
  • 3 cans (11.5 oz each) lemon soda, preferably San Pellegrino Limonata
  • 1 lime, sliced into rounds or wedges
  • 1 orange, sliced into half-moons
  • 3-4 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint
  • half a small English cucumber, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • few dashes of orange bitters (optional)
  • ice

Pour half the bottle of Pimm’s into a pitcher. Add the fruit, mint and orange bitters; with a wooden spoon gently mash it up and stir to combine. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. Add the lemon soda and serve in collins glasses over ice.

Note: I accidentally bought a blood orange, which was tasty and especially pretty. And to keep pesticides out of your Pimm’s, it’s best to use organic fruit here.

pimm's no one

About scarpettakate

Scarpetta Dolcetto celebrates simple, seasonal, scratch home cookery.
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16 Responses to Pimm’s Cup

  1. HmarieK says:

    WOW. How beautiful! Wonderful inspiration for a party beverage! Thank you!

  2. Cindy says:

    I can’t wait to make this and watch the Royal Festivities!! Well DONE!!

  3. I’m reading this from work…can you UPS a pitcher over ASAP? Sounds lovely for a future gathering (or a rough day on the job!)

  4. Here’s a recipe, published years ago in the London Times, for making Pimm’s No. 1 from scratch. It’s worth mixing the three alcoholic ingredients yourself because the premixed, commercial Pimm’s has been diluted over the years so the alcohol content is not as much as it once was, and hence the flavor isn’t as good. Here’s the pertinent excerpt from Jane Macquitty’s original LT article “Ever since Pimm’s did the dirty in the 1980s and again in the 1990s, raising the price and reducing the alcohol content of what it erroneously describes as “the original No 1 Cup” to a measly 25 per cent and thus ruining a great classic English summer drink, I have fought back.” :
    Pimm’s No. 1 from Scratch
    1 measure gin (good quality 40% alcohol gin)
    1 measure red vermouth
    1/2 measure orange curaçao (Bols is the best orange curaçao producer I have found)

    Mix it together and store it in empty Pimm’s bottles (or any clean bottle) or mix in a pitcher and pour for your guests.

    Originally there were 5 different Pimm’s cups, each based on a different spirit. Here’s the list:
    Pimm’s No. 1 – gin
    Pimm’s No 2 – whisky
    No. 3 – brandy
    No. 4 – rum
    No. 5 – vodka

    Catriona Tudor Erler

  5. Meant to mention, very humorous post. I love your writing.

  6. Andrea says:

    Great post and one of my favorite drinks!

  7. Last summer when our English cousins were visiting in Lebanon, they brought two bottles of Pimm’s and showed me how to fix it; fell in love with the drink! Their version was not as fancy as yours, only 7-up, lemon and cucumber peels! But delicious! Love your photos, always superb!

  8. I am not a gin fan, but this definitely looks so fresh and delicious!

  9. What a perfect cocktail to celebrate the Royal festivities! I have long wanted to make a Pimm’s cup and now I have a great recipe! Enjoy!

  10. Thanks so much for the notes, all…enjoy the frothy fun this week. Cheers!

  11. Kathy says:

    Love your post…and would love to try this drink!! Mother’s Day sounds like a reason to make these!!

  12. Foodycat says:

    Pimms is awesome – personally I like it with gingerbeer, but that extra tangy edge of the San Pellegrino is a great idea.

  13. Jason Phelps says:

    Definitely on my list of cocktails to try!


  14. Cecilia says:

    I made this over the weekend to bring to a couple of parties– they were a huge hit! I doubled the recipe above and added a 1/2 bottle of Hendricks for the evening party, and about 1/4 for the day party, which was just right for each occasion. Thanks so much for sharing!

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