Like barbecues and beach trips, delicious cocktails are a British summertime staple. There’s plenty of variety, from tropical coolers to herbal spritzers, the most iconic British summer cocktail is definitely Pimm’s. The fruity, gin-based liqueur is consumed nationwide once the temperatures rise , enjoyed at everything from Royal Ascot to Wimbledon and dates as far back as 1823.
A Potted Pimm’s History
Pimm’s was first produced by James Pimm in 1823. An oyster bar owner in London, Pimm offered the drink, a secret mixture of liqueur, herbs and spices, to diners as a digestive aid. The ‘No. 1 Cup’ name comes from the small tankard in which the tonic was originally served, and by 1851, Pimm had added ‘No. 2 Cup’ and ‘No. 3 Cup’ versions. As popularity grew, Pimm began large scale production in the mid 19th century, in order to sell his product to other bars. The business changed hands several times, yet the brand continued to experiment with different spirits in order to produce new Cups. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that a rum-based Pimm’s No, 4 Cup was introduced, swiftly followed by the No.5 rye whiskey and No.6 vodka blends. Today, the No. 1 Cup continues to be the most widely available, but the company does produce a brandy based Pimm’s Winter Cup as well as strawberry and blackberry and elderflower variants of the original mix.
There’s plenty of debate over what ingredients make up the perfect Pimm’s. Opinions vary from a simple orange and cucumber garnish to a flourish of borage, whilst popular mixers include lemonade, ginger ale and tonic.
How to drink it
(Recipe courtesy of Pimm’s)
To make one glass:
- Highball glass
- 50ml PIMM’S No.1
- 150ml of Lemonade
- Mint, orange, strawberries
- Cucumber to garnish and ice
Fortunately, the perfect Pimm’s couldn’t be much easier to make. Begin with a generous amount of ice, followed by the mint leaves and chopped fruit. Then add your Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and top with lemonade.
For a jug of Pimm’s, follow exactly the same method but add a handful each of mint leaves and chopped strawberries, cucumber and orange. The ratio of Pimm’s to lemonade should always be one part Pimm’s to three parts lemonade.
Try Something Different
Pimm’s isn’t the only fruit cup to have appeared throughout the course of history. Both Plymouth Gin and Fortnum & Mason produce Fruit Cup and Summer Cup bottles, but we’re particularly fond of Sipsmith’s London Cup. Inspired by the punches made in 17th century London, this sweet and pleasantly spicy concoction includes Earl Grey tea, lemon verbena and borage for that ideal hot weather cooler.
Enjoy a refreshing glass of Pimm’s alongside other expertly made cocktails at the Montague on the Gardens’ wood-decked Garden Terrace, the perfect al fresco summer spot.