Having not seen the sun in days, I can’t help but wish for summer again, and when it comes to creating cocktails, I can’t get my mind off of Pimm’s. It seems our fair city has quite the cocktail crush on the Pimm’s cup. It has been a refreshing change of pace to see how well-represented this drink has become around town: a perfectly coifing drink on a hot summer day that can hardly be made incorrectly and can be easily changed to match any given season.
House Pimm’s cup
Pimm’s No. 1
Pimm’s No. 1
1.5 oz Pimm’s No. 1
2 dashes lemon bitters
Although many have been exposed to the Pimm’s cup, few seem to know what Pimm’s in and of itself is. It is a gin-based liqueur that was created and popularized by James Pimm at his oyster bar in London. He served a gin liqueur infused with quinine and a blend of secret herbs to act as a digestive after downing gin and oysters all afternoon and evening.
Pimm’s recipe began being bottled in the 1860s, and it wasn’t long before the popularity of the Pimm’s No. 1 led to the creation of five more Pimm’s concoctions, each with a different base. There is a great blog describing each of the six flavors of Pimm’s and how they work with the classic pairing of lemonade or ginger ale. Some prefer a citrus soda and the addition of fresh fruit, cucumber or mint. Although I’ve been asked if I have ever had a “real” Pimm’s cup in New Orleans, there is no hard and fast recipe that I have found to be the one and only classic. When I first encountered Pimm’s, I got a lesson from my regulars on how to make a Pimm’s cup. I was taught equal parts of lemonade and soda, with mint and cucumber to garnish. Soon thereafter, more people came in recognizing the cocktail and asking for fresh fruit to be added to the mix.
The cocktail has taken many cities by storm, pairing the slightly bitter, citrusy spirit with everything from tequila to zinfandel to rhubarb to celery. In the fall and winter months, I like to add seasonally inspired spirits like applejack and pear liqueur or seasonal fruits such as persimmons and kumquats. For a fun summer Pimm’s cocktail, check out my friend Beca’s blog here. How does it pair so well with so many things? Pimm’s clocks in at just 50 proof, and although the driving flavor is quinine, the notes of citrus and herbs are very well-balanced, and every time you pair it with something new, it pulls out a different flavor.
What’s really great about this cocktail is that it is easy to make at home or in large format for a party. Though I like to strengthen mine a little with gin, it isn’t necessary but can provide more depth. Tinker with proportions to your liking, and see what suits you best. Have fun experimenting, but remember that sometimes simple is best!
Laura Kelton is a recent graduate of UTC and currently runs the bar program at Easy Bistro & Bar. Feel free to reach out to her by email with any questions, comments or requests. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.