During our time in Oxford we kept encountering references to Pimm’s everywhere, from the chalkboard above to some of the wedding guests offering to fetch me a Pimm’s Cup while I hacked through our bridesmaid bouquets prior to dinner (it’s a long story). Alas, neither Michael nor I were able to actually try this unbelievably English libations until we arrived in London and C suggested making a pitcher of it, which was part of her larger scheme: Getting Us to Enjoy Odd British Foods.
For those unfamiliar with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, it’s a gin-based cordial that bears a slight resemblance to Campari, mainly because they have similar alcoholic content (25%) and tend to be consumed before or after dinner. Like Campari, it’s infused with herbs and spices which give it an intense flavor, but when turned into the traditional cocktail that flavor is diluted substantially, especially when muddled fruits are added to the party.
Probably the strangest element in this drink is the use of lemonade–and don’t even think about opening that carton of Newman’s Own. No, this calls for English-style lemonade: clear and carbonated–basically Sprite for those of us here in the States. It works, however: the fizz adds a refreshing bite to the drink, and the lemon-lime flavor mellows out the strong, herbal liquor. Adding the lemonade and ice also helps dilute the already low alcoholic content, making this a perfect drink to while away a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon–but still leave you sharp enough to make an excellent dinner.
Which we did, of course. But you’ll just have to wait a little to hear that tale.
C’s Guide to Making Pimm’s Cup for Yanks:
- 1 part Pimm’s Cup No. 1
- 2 parts clear lemon soda (we used Sprite Zero)
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced and halved (depending on pitcher size)
- 1-2 apples, sliced
- 5-10 strawberries, sliced
- Generous amount of ice
- Mint, to garnish if handy
In a medium-sized pitcher add fruit and ice and then fill 1/3 of pitcher with Pimm’s followed by filling the remaining two thirds with lemon soda. Stir, trying to muddle the fruit if you can, and pour into glasses, letting ice and fruit fall in with the drink. Add a sprig of mint to garnish if you please, sit back and proceed to turn the telly on to the latest cricket match or English Premiere League game on Fox Soccer.