Pimm’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!
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)
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.