The Pimm’s Cup don’t get no respect. Not in the States anyway, where it’s bested by warm weather drinks like the Mint Julep, Margaritas, and ubiquitous Sangria. But in the UK, especially around Wimbledon time, the fruity, fizzy Pimm’s Cup is adored by many. And we think it’s time the States got in on the Pimm’s game. Out of competition, of course. But also because the stuff’s delicious.
Why the Brits love them some Pimm’s shouldn’t be a mystery. And it’s not just national pride—Kent-born and super English-looking James Pimm invented both the “tonic” and the drink that bear his name. The drink is incredibly refreshing, lighter, warm-weather friendly, the kind of thing you’d want to drink while admiring your award-winning Dahlias or overseeing construction of an adorable stone cottage where you’ll write your next mystery novel. (That’s what England is like, right?)
American eyes glaze over unfairly, like a Pimm’s Cup is some genteel tonic sipped during croquet (and if you can drink something while wielding giant wooden mallets, it’s probably a tame tipple). But it’s a supple little minx, this Pimm’s No. 1 (Pimm tried for other formulas, most of which went out of favor). Pimm, originally a shellfish monger and oyster bar owner, actually devised the tonic to accompany his bivalves. But he also sold it as a digestive aid, which isn’t entirely unreasonable: it’s a delicately bitter gin-based liqueur with herbs and spices, most prominently notes of orange and subtle root beer (either we’ve gone insane, or there’s something either root beer or cola like in both nose and taste). Plenty to love, and play with.
So how do we bring this prim looking bottle some much-deserved attention from Americans still sore over the Stamp Act? Our plan, present the classic, refreshing Pimm’s Cup—which we got, ahem, from a real live British person we absolutely did not make up. And then, because this is America, land of loving bastardization, present our own Tripped Out Team USA “Just Do It” Stars and Stripes version. Not that it’s the only way you can play with Pimm’s (that’s kind of our point), but a good start.
Classic Pimm’s Cup from Super Real, Actually British Danielle
- 1 part Pimm’s
- 3 parts “lemonade” (the British fizzy lemonade*)
- Lots of Ice
- Optional Ingredients: mint, lemon slices, cucumber slices (a must); sliced orange, lime, and strawberries are optional
*We used Trader Joe’s French Market Sparkling Lemonade. Actually British-we-swear-Danielle recommends clear, even 7-Up, but we wanted a lemonade because we fancy.
Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Pour Pimm’s over the ice. Add any fruit slices desired (again, cucumbers are a must). Add more ice to fill. Finish with fizzy lemonade.
Must be drunk outside during the day/when it’s still light outside. (Happy Hour would be fine.) Must be drunk outside!
Garnish: Fresh mint sprigs, cucumber, if desired
Yield: 1 Classic Pimm’s Cup Worth of Real Actual Danielle Who is Really British
Tripped Out Team USA “Just Do It” Stars and Stripes Pimm’s Cup of Freedom
- 2 part Pimm’s No. 1
- 1 part Four Roses Bourbon (America!)
- Lime juice
- Lots of Ice
- New York State apple slices (ahem), Florida oranges
- American sparkling wine (we used 2012 Balletto Sparkling Brut Rose)
Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Add the Pimm’s, bourbon, and lime juice. Stir to incorporate and dilute slightly. Add apple and orange slices and more ice. Pause for an optional Pledge of Allegiance. Top with sparkling wine. Then find a photo of Queen Elizabeth and give it the thumbs up, since the Brits are largely responsible for the special ingredient in the drink you’re about to enjoy.
Cheers. Also, Cheerio. And other British stereotypes.