Pimm’s Cup is to England, what Sangria is to Spain – a light, fruity and refreshing summertime beverage. It’s the quintessential drink all over Britain, especially at Wimbledon, regattas, and garden parties. Pimm’s is easy to find in most American grocery or liquor stores. It’s also the perfect way to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee!
The year and a half I spent in London, I worked for a catering company in Wimbledon. I took the green, District line, to the Wimbledon tube station and walked a mile right past the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Though the closest I ever got to those hallowed grounds was peeking through the gates. I was too focused on my job, and took it for granted.
That year, Boris Becker won the Men’s Singles. I remember the buzz and excitement. Nearly every summer party during the London “season” featured a large pitcher of Pimm’s Cup. I drank tall, fruit filled glasses of Pimm’s, at the Oxford-Cambridge Regatta on the Thames, at cricket matches, weekends in Yorkshire and weddings.
What is Pimm’s?
Pimm’s Original No. 1 Cup, is a gin and herb based liquor. At one time, there were Pimm’s Cup numbers 2 through 6, which were made from scotch, brandy, rum, whiskey and vodka respectively. They have since been either discontinued or are produced in very limited quantities. And so, gin it is, which is fine with me. In the summer I do like the bright, refreshing tang of a tall gin and tonic with a squeeze of lime.
Is a Pimm’s Cup strong?
Since Pimm’s Cup is 25 percent alcohol, and then further mixed with “lemonade”, ginger-ale or club soda, the resulting beverage is much lighter and perfect for an afternoon of tennis, a BBQ, or for sipping by the pool. But be careful! This fruity punch can sneak up on you!
Is lemonade the same in England?
No! As with a lot of UK English words, the word “lemonade” translates to lemon soda in the US. This mistake happens a lot in the US with the British drink Shandy. A shandy is lager mixed with “lemonade” (lemon soda, NOT American lemonade!)
The one constant, is the addition of fruit and cucumber, plus a sprig of mint. (The traditional borage, is nearly impossible to find in the U.S.) I decided to have a Pimm’s tasting a few nights ago in honor of Wimbledon. I made up a few samples using ginger-ale, and the less sweet sparkling lemonade instead of Sprite, an additional splash of Triple Sec to play off the orange fruit, and an extra shot of gin. In the end we preferred the version with the sparkling lemonade, which my husband said, “brought out the flavor of the Pimm’s”, over the ginger ale or Triple Sec versions, which tended to mask the Pimm’s. Your call.
How to make a Pimm’s Cup
Pimm’s Cup is mixed with “lemonade”, or what we Americans call, lemon soda. While Sprite or 7-Up come close, British lemon soda is slightly different, it’s less sweet and less fizzy. Sanpellagrino Limonata would work as well. But just like Sangria, or wine coolers, everyone’s recipe differs. When making Pimm’s Cup, you can either add the fruit and mint to the glass or pitcher and, “muddle” or blend the flavors, or add the fruit after as a garnish. Muddling will give your drink more fruit flavor, but the result will be a little cloudier, rather than clear.
Can you make Pimm’s Cup ahead of time?
Absolutely! In fact, Pimm’s Cup definitely tastes better when the fruit has had a chance to meld with the Pimm’s. Make the base up several hours ahead of time and add the lemon soda just before serving. Freshen up the garnish if desired.
This Pimm’s Cup recipe will yield 4 servings and can easily be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled, if you want to serve it in a large pitcher! Pimm’s Cup is traditionally served in a highball glass. Here are some great looking acrylic highball glasses for summer pool parties.
What do you serve with Pimm’s Cup?
Planning a English inspired party either for Wimbledon or the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee? Here are some delicious ideas for a summer picnic or garden party. Serve tea or full sized sandwiches filled with Coronation Chicken Salad.
Traditionally Pimm’s Cup is served at Wimbledon with fresh strawberries. This fresh Strawberry Pie
or Eton Mess would work as well.
I hope you enjoy this light and refreshing English recipe for Pimm’s Cup!
- 3/4 cup Pimm's Original No. 1 Cup can be found in most liquor stores and some markets
- 2 cups Sparkling lemon soda or Sanpellagrino limonata soda. (7-UP or Sprite can be used, but will have a sweeter taste).
- 4 slices English cucumber
- 8 strawberries quarter four, and reserve 4 for garnish
- 4 slices orange
- 4 slices lemon
- 4 slices lime
- Sprigs of mint or borage
- Pimm's is usually made by the pitcher full, since it goes so fast. But you can easily make it by the glass.
- In a pitcher, mix 3/4 Pimm's Cup, citrus slices, strawberry quarters and cucumber slices. Let sit for about 10 minutes. (Or several hours)
- Just before serving add 2 cups of lemon soda. Pour into 4 tall glasses filled with ice. Garnish with a strawberry and additional fresh mint if desired.
- This Pimm's Cup recipe serves 4, but can easily be doubled or tripled!
- The fruit can be added to a pitcher with the Pimm's several hours before so that the fruit can meld with the alcohol. Add the lemon soda just before serving.