A British summer — from Wimbledon to Ascot to the Queen’s magnificent garden parties — isn’t complete without a refreshing glass or several of citrusy Pimm’s, and, thanks to a long-running ad campaign, you’ll often hear Brits tell you it’s “Pimm’s o’clock,” a time of day that seems to be extraordinarily flexible. What you’ll never hear, though, is a Brit refer to it as a “Pimm’s Cup,” though the bottle is marked “Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.” First produced in 1823 by a certain James Pimm, this fruit cup was once produced in six numbered varieties, using different base liquors.
Nowadays, Pimm’s normally refers to the gin-based version, which is increasingly available at good liquor stores and supermarkets in the Seattle area. If you can’t get hold of it, I have provided a substitute recipe. Feel free to experiment with different gins and base liquors to make this fruit cup your own, or stick to the classic version. Pimm’s is traditionally diluted with lemonade, though I love the spiciness that a splash of ginger ale brings to the mix. British lemonade is a clear, carbonated drink, much like a less sweet 7UP. I have substituted regular American lemonade and club soda, but feel free to use 7UP if you prefer.
Makes one 8-ounce drink, multiply by the number of servings required | active time 15 minutes (including slicing the garnishes)
2 1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
1 ounce gin
1 ounce red vermouth
1/2 ounce orange curacao (or orange juice)
2 1/2 ounces good quality lemonade (homemade would be lovely)
1 1/2 ounces club soda
2 ounces ginger ale or 1 ounce lemonade and 1 ounce club soda
Pimm’s is traditionally garnished with some combination of cucumber slices, orange slices, sliced strawberries, mint leaves, and maybe lemon verbena or borage, if you can find it. Picking the boozy fruit out of the bottom of the glass when you’ve finished your drink is one of a British summer’s true pleasures. You could also just use a simple orange slice or twist.
Gently stir together the Pimm’s (or Pimm’s substitute), lemonade, club soda, and ginger ale. If you’re taking Pimm’s to an outdoor celebration, bring the carbonated drinks separately and add them at the last minute. Slice and stir in the garnishes (for a picnic, bring the sliced fruits in a separate container) and serve over ice in a Collins glass or similar.