As a huge tennis fan and especially Wimbledon, I’ve always heard about a proper Pimm’s Cup.

But I never really knew what it was or how it was made. Or if it was any good.

So, this year, I decided to take one for the tennis team and make this cocktail−whatever it is.

Was it a success? Keep reading…

A (Very) Brief History of the Pimm’s Cup

When I started researching what a Pimm’s Cup is, I rolled across a page for Racks, a Bristol bar. They offer a much more in depth history of Pimm’s Cup than I’ll give you here.

What caught my attention was that they say Pimm’s is “almost as British as a cup of tea.”

Well, things just got very interesting.

So, what is Pimm’s?:

  • James Pimm, a landlord of a London oyster bar, created the first Pimm’s sometime between 1823 and 1840.
  • Pimm’s originated as a gin-based spirit (currently Pimm’s Cup No. 1) created to help in the digestion of oysters. Yup. You read that correctly.
  • Pimm’s is “made from a secret recipe infusing gin with a delicate combination of herbal botanicals, caramelised orange and warm spices.”
  • The line had been expanded to include other spirits as bases including Scotch whiskey (No. 2), Brandy (No. 3), rum (No. 4), Rye whiskey (No. 5), and vodka (No. 6). These versions have been phased out except for Pimm’s No. 6.

If you want more history on Pimm’s, check out Racks’ notes or head over to the Pimm’s website.

Simple to Make−Pimm’s Cup

Get the recipe from: The Modern Proper

One thing you should know about the modern Pimm’s Cup is that it is excessively garnished. We’re talking over-the-top, if-you-think-you’ve-added-enough-garnish-you-haven’t excessive.

Always add more garnish.

That’s part of the fun with this drink as well.

It’s outrageous.

It’s excessive.

It’s extra.

It’s extraordinary.

And it’s perfect.

Pimm’s Cup ingredients.

Four things to know about the Pimm’s Cup recipe:

  • You may have to search a bit to find Pimm’s No. 1. Most large liquor stores will stock Pimm’s and some smaller ones will as well, but you might want to check their website or call ahead to make sure it’s in stock. There is no substitution for Pimm’s No. 1 in a Pimm’s Cup!
  • The recipe calls for San Pellegrino Limonata but I had to substitute Schweppe’s. I tried three different places to get the San Pellegrino (which I prefer), but the shelves were bare at all three. So, I grabbed the Schweppe’s and it worked just as well. What you’re looking for is a sparkling lemonade. As long as you have that, you can make your Pimm’s Cup!
Combine ingredients in a large pitcher and let stand 10 minutes to let the cucumber, strawberry, lemon, and basil become friends.
  • Use a taller cocktail glass and be sure to add some of the strawberries and cucumbers to the individual glasses. I used smaller glasses and skipped adding the fruit to my drinks for the photos, but if you’re going for an authentic Pimm’s Cup, use that taller glass and drop in the fruit! It’s more fun that way! Wish I had done this. Next time…
  • Plan for more strawberries, cucumber and lemon slices, and basil sprigs for garnish than what is listed in the recipe. If you’re making this for a party, by all means, go big or go home with the garnish! That’s part of the fun of this cocktail. So, plan ahead and have plenty additional strawberries, slices of cucumber and lemon, and basil sprigs for each glass. It’s part of the pageantry of the Pimm’s Cup!
Garnish Galore!

The Verdict

My taste-tester daughter has gotten used to me bringing her random drinks to taste. At any time of the day. Cocktail tasting waits for no one!

I was hesitant to bring this excessively garnished drink to her because, well, she would have to wade through the garnish to get to the drink. And while she did look at it a bit funny, she willingly took and tasted it.

So, what did she think?

“This is weirdly refreshing!” she said in a surprised way, and then proceeded to drink the whole thing.

Drop us a photo of your Pimm’s Cup adventure and let us know how you describe this drink.

My taste tester gave the Pimm’s Cup two thumbs up and called it “weirdly refreshing.”