Monday, June 7, 2010

The Pimm's Cup

Pimm's No. 1 is a liqueur from Great Britian. It's gin-based, with lots of fruit and herb flavors up in the mix, and at 25 percent alcohol it's roughly half as boozy as say, vodka or tequila. If you did not need the above explanation you are probably a snooty mixologist type, since most people I meet have never heard of this stuff. Or you're British. Pimm's No. 1 is the essential ingredient in a cocktail called the Pimm's Cup, which is to Wimbledon what the mint julep is to the Kentucky Derby.

Pimm's is also an essential ingredient in these ridiculous hats. Crazy Brits.

One night at the Black Lab, being the cocktail adventurer that I am, I ordered a Pimm's cup. It was dark brown, came in a pint glass with cucumber spear, and tasted like...well, it tasted like Pepsi. Really, guys? All that fuss about a drink that tastes like Pepsi?

So I decided to make my own. Comprised of:
2 oz. Pimm's No. 1 Liqueur
2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 oz sugar syrup
Ginger Ale *
2 strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cucumber slices (I got an especially twisted one from the farmers market)
2 slices green apple **
2 sprigs of mint (harvested from the back porch!)

* The Brits make their Pimm's cups with some kind of sparkling lemonade that isn't available in the states, so we have to get creative.
** I know all this fruit is starting to seem like overkill, but it's to bring out all the great fruit flavors in the Pimm's. Trust me.

Pimm's loves fruit.

Combine all the ingredients except the ginger ale in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake until a frost forms on the shaker. (You don't want to shake this one too long, since the idea is for the fruit flavors to be fairly subtle.) Pour the whole thing (ice and all) into a pint glass, and top with a bit of ginger ale.

The verdict: First of all, so, so pretty. Nice and tea-colored, with all that lovely fruit floating around. I didn't know whether to drink it or photograph it. (So I did both.) As for taste: refreshing, summery, a bit unexpected, like a lemonade that's all grown up. (Cucumber definitely comes through - but in a good way, I promise.) Oh, and tastes nothing at all like Pepsi. Sorry, Black Lab.


  1. I can't find a twisted cucumber--should I just bend a regular one before slicing it?

  2. . . . I'd be pretty excited about a cocktail that tasted like a Pepsi.

  3. Tried the Pimms to great applause! Made 5 glasses and it was loved by all. Thanks for the fun recipe!

  4. Hi,

    Great summertime drink – I like Pimm’s too! (I’m not British either… I just happen to love booze! LOL!) You have some delicious looking recipes here. Nice work. Thanks for sharing.

    I noticed your mention of not being able to find proper British carbonated lemonade. I also had the same problem last summer when I wanted to make a UK style Shandy. While I didn’t find the Schweppes brand of fizzy lemon soda that I kept popping up in UK Shandy drink recipes, I did discover a premium line of British sodas & mixers called Fever-Tree (obviously not local, but still tasty). They don’t use any preservatives or artificial flavors like most tonic waters or ginger ales. All the more reason to use them in a homemade drink with fresh fruits and herbs from the garden.

    Since you like mixing up quality, fresh-ingredient cocktails, you may have already tried the Fever-Tree brand? If not, you can find it at Spec’s downtown. Spec’s usually stocks the Indian Tonic Water and Bitter-Lemon flavors. I have yet to see Fever-Tree at Whole Foods or Central Market. The bitter-lemon soda is heavenly on a hot day mixed simply with gin. They also have a ginger beer that is not super sweet like most ginger beers – it’s more peppery-ginger tasting. I love the stuff, but Spec’s has not had any since last October. I may be forced to order it from Amazon.

    Read more about their products at
    BTW – I swear I do not work for them. I have just had so much fun in my own “cocktail kitchen” adventures, experimenting with their various products, that I thought I’d spread the word to others who have the same inclinations. Seems like people who gravitate towards your blog and recipes would find this product useful (and yummy!).

  5. @ Hannah: Yay!!! I'm so glad someone tried one of my drinks and liked it. The gospel of Pimm's spreads...

    @ Rosann: Glad you like the blog. I haven't tried the Fever-Tree products but I'm always looking for new things to mix with...maybe this will be the inspiration for a future post. Thanks for the tip!

  6. I love Pimm's but I have to suggest that you use seltzer and home-made ginger simple syrup instead of the ginger ale etc. Much better.

  7. As a Brit (it's wierd thinking of Pimm's as a local delicacy), it springs to mind that 7-Up is basically British lemonade: for a more authentic Pimm's take 50ml Pimm's, some chopped-up cucumber, strawberry, lemon, and mint and top up with 7-Up. It'll be a bit limier than it would be in the UK, but closer than this recipe with ginger and other such nonsense.

    A Pimm's Royal Cup, incidentally, is some Pimm's topped up with champagne. You might want to put half a strawberry in, but it doesn't need the whole fruit salad.

  8. How is a Pimms Pint different, if at all?