Pimm’s Oyster House, London, England (1840)
The Pimm’s Cup tastes like an iced tea that’s been out mowing the lawn. Earthy, refreshing, and simple to assemble, the Pimm’s Cup is made for sipping outdoors on a warm day. Bonus: its low proof means you won’t get smashed if you want to enjoy a couple. For some unknown (but brilliant) reason, these are popular in New Orleans, not just England.
Pimm’s (a gin-and-botanicals sling) was originally sold in 1840 as a digestive tonic at James Pimm’s Oyster House in London’s financial district. Over time, its popularity grew among the British elite at garden parties and sporting events, then spread around the world along with the Victorian British Empire. Thirsty for something more than the original gin version (renamed “Pimm’s #1” as the new versions appeared), its bottlings grew to Pimm’s #2 (Scotch), Pimm’s #3 (brandy), Pimm’s #4 (rum), Pimm’s #5 (rye), and Pimm’s #6 (vodka). As go empires, most of these have been discontinued, leaving just the original version to hold guard.
Simply combine Pimm’s #1 and some lemon soda over ice and garnish with a lemon wedge and cucumber slice. Yes, cucumber – trust me. It enhances the earthy sweetness in the mix. Lemon soda can be hard to come across – look for Lorina (sweeter) or San Pellegrino (drier) brands. If you’re coming up short, a lemon-flavored mineral water like Perrier will work. As a fallback, some people mix with 7-Up or ginger ale, but these will make the drink much sweeter than intended. A Pimm’s Cup is as close to an RTD (“ready to drink”) as I’ll ever be likely to recommend.
Last time I was in England, pubs were serving these all summer (although tricked out with strawberry and mint along with the traditional lemon and cucumber) so it’s nice to see that (at least in Old Blighty), traditions still endure. Foist one of these on an unsuspecting friend and you just may begin a new tradition in your home.
Hardware: Barspoon, Jigger, Straw (optional)
Ice: Cracked ice
Glassware: Collins glass
Mixers & Liqueurs: Pimm’s #1, Lemon soda (recommended: Lorina Original French Lemonade, San Pellegrino Limonata)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon wedge, Cucumber slice
In a Collins glass filled with cracked ice, add:
2 oz Pimm’s #1
3 oz lemon soda
Stir well to blend and chill, then garnish with a lemon wedge and cucumber slice. Optionally, serve with a straw.