That’s the spirit
I hope you know that I take my job seriously. A number of you asked for a Pimm’s Cup recipe, so I’ve been drinking a lot of it. Just for you.
That’s Brandon’s hand there, and actually, he’s holding a gin and tonic, but it doesn’t matter. The gesture is what counts. Long live Pimm’s Cup! Cheers!
I first tasted Pimm’s in its native city of London, where it came to the table in a pitcher, mixed with fizzy lemonade to a handsome shade of amber. There were slices of cucumber, lemon, and strawberry floating among the ice cubes, and a sprig of mint, and it was very hot outside, very hot, and after I drank a glass of it, I had one of the finest summer afternoons in memory. I cannot prove that the two events were causally related, but in my personal catalog of experiences, they’re on the same page. I keep thinking that somehow, if I drink enough Pimm’s, I’ll wind up back in London, or in an episode of Jeeves and Wooster, but I usually just wind up falling asleep early, fully clothed, forgetting to brush my teeth, in Seattle.
I get the sense that a lot of you have had Pimm’s, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s a gin-based drink containing quinine – the substance that gives tonic water its bitter flavor – and various herbs, and probably a bunch of other ingredients, though the formula is a secret. It was made to serve as a digestif, but few drink it straight. On its own, it’s quite intense, with a flavor that combines citrus and spice with a little burnt caramel. On its own, it tastes like Christmas, only bitter. It tastes like the Christmas when I was fifteen, when I had the flu and my mother gave me a plaid flannel dress and a belt made from recycled car tires and bottle caps, and I cried when she asked me to try it on. Needless to say, Pimm’s is best mixed, if you ask me, and that’s how it’s most commonly served. Once mixed, it mellows considerably. It’s bright, refreshing, embarrassingly easy to drink. The British mix it most often with what they call lemonade, though it’s not the same thing as American lemonade; it’s a clear, sparkling lemon soda, and it’s sweet, but not too sweet. In the States, a decent substitute is 7-Up, or Sprite. It’s also acceptable to mix it with ginger ale or ginger beer.
Except that I don’t really care for that ginger ale up there, Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, in my Pimm’s Cup. I meant to buy Reed’s Original Ginger Brew. Until I took that picture, I didn’t realize that I had bought the wrong kind. In any case, Reed’s is a good grocery-store bet, but if you’re in Seattle and have access to Rachel’s Ginger Beer, for god’s sake, use that. It’s the best.
At any rate, there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to making a Pimm’s-based cocktail, and you can find many of them here, or on the official Pimm’s website, which I’m crazy for. To get into the site, on the page where you input your birth date, the “submit” button doesn’t just say “submit,” but instead “Tally ho, IN we go!” That’s the spirit! Then, once you’re in, the home page treats you to a video of a pitcher being filled – mysteriously, benevolently, from an unseen hand above – with ice, Pimm’s, lemonade, and fruit, all of it splashing around and catching the sunlight in a relentlessly juicy way, so mesmerizing that I’ve hit “reload” on the Pimm’s website six times since I started writing this sentence.
This to say that I’ve been reading up on Pimm’s, and doing my homework, and in the name of research, I’ve made Pimm’s cocktails six different ways in the past few weeks. I’ve tried Pimm’s with 7-Up, Reed’s Original Ginger Brew, Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew, Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, San Pellegrino Limonata, and, finally, a mixture of American lemonade and sparkling water. Whatever you mix it with, it’s standard to use 1 part Pimm’s to 3 parts mixer, and that’s what I’ve done. Plus slices of lemon and cucumber, and a slice of strawberry, and mint.
All told, and with apologies to any lemonade or 7-Up die-hards out there, I like my Pimm’s best with ginger beer. It’s a little more complex, a little less sweet, and with a squeeze of lemon, it’s what I’m going to be drinking for the rest of the summer, starting tonight. Happy Friday.
My Pimm’s Cup
The recipe below is for one serving, but to make a pitcher, just scale up accordingly, keeping the 1:3 ratio of Pimm’s to ginger beer.
Combine the Pimm’s and ginger beer in a Collins glass, or something similar. Add ice until the liquid comes almost to the rim of the glass. Add the cucumber, lemon, and strawberry, plus a small squeeze of lemon juice, if you like. Use a straw to bash the fruit around a little bit. Add the mint, and serve immediately.
Yield: 1 drink