The Gentleman: Lagniappe, Mixing the Perfect Pimm’s Cup

With Wimbledon currently in full swing, The Gentleman decided to take a break from covering mens’ dressing to discuss his favorite summer cocktail and the official drink of the tennis tournament, the Pimm’s Cup. Part of living a gentleman’s life is being able to entertain stylishly. Concocting an excellent cocktail that matches the season and the setting of an event is an important component of any party. The light, crisp, effervescent Pimm’s Cup is the perfect drink for summer entertaining.

The Pimm’s Cup is a Victorian British cocktail that is not particularly well known today and is especially rare in the United States. New Orleans has a surprising affinity for the drink, which is how, about a year ago, I first discovered it at a bar called Napoleon House, an establishment famous for the cocktail.

There are numerous slightly different variations on the Pimm’s Cup. Here’s my take, which I’ve been told is among the most classic:

  • 2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
  • 4 oz. Lemonade (homemade is best)
  • Top off with ginger ale or 7-Up
  • Garnish with a slice of cucumber

The key to this drink is Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liqueur, the exact recipe of which is a secret. In the late 19th century, it was common for many households to make their own family liqueur blends. It just so happened that the Pimm’s family’s liqueur became quite popular and was eventually bottled and sold. Today, it is the heart of the Pimm’s Cup. Pimm’s No. 1 is somewhat difficult to find, but a well-stocked, higher quality liquor store should have it. If you’re having a trouble finding a bottle, an online retailer like this sells it at a reasonable price.

To make the drink – ideally – you should fill a Collin’s glass halfway to the top with ice cubes. If you don’t have a Collin’s glass, a regular drinking glass can be substituted in a pinch. It’s even better if you frost the glass first. To do this, swirl just enough water to coat the inside of a clean glass and put it in the freezer for a few minutes; remove it before adding the ice.

Next, add two ounces of Pimm’s No. 1. I like to prepare my own batch of lemonade to use in this recipe. It isn’t hard at all. Mix:

  • the juice of 6 lemons
  • 6 cups of cold water
  • 1 cup of sugar

Stir in four ounces of the lemonade. Do not shake this drink. Top off the glass with ginger ale or 7-Up. The choice of soda is a personal one, both are traditional options. Stir again. Cut a circular, disc-shaped slice of cucumber and float it on top of the drink.

The exact flavor of the drink is very difficult to describe. It is a bit bubbly, citrusy, with a touch of spice and hint of vegetable from the cucumber. Described more evocatively, it tastes like everything that is bright and wonderful about summer.

Pimm’s Cup can be made in larger batches. Simply increase the percentage of Pimm’s No. 1 and lemonade proportionally and top off each glass with the ginger ale or 7-Up.

The next time you have company over for the summer, consider trying out the Pimm’s Cup. It’s fresh, crisp and classic.

Next week The Gentleman does the impossible, revealing how to buy a quality made-to-measure suit for under $500…



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9 responses to “The Gentleman: Lagniappe, Mixing the Perfect Pimm’s Cup

  1. sounds great…but to me a pimm’s cup without strawberries isn’t a pimm’s cup. 😛

  2. We are totally obsessed with Pimms.
    With love from Toronto!

  3. Yes, this is quite the classic, summer cocktail. And I need one, stat.

  4. The Gentleman

    Good to hear that they like Pimm’s in Toronto, Sevendollarpants!

    I didn’t know that you could make a Pimm’s with strawberry. I’ll have to try that variation since I just bought a fresh box of strawberries. How many do you float on top?

  5. OK, not to rain on your parade but it’s not called a Pimms cup. It’s just called Pimms.

    And I have to say that using homemade American lemonade and ginger ale or 7-Up is a heinous crime (I’m British so I’m allowed to be upset by this). Pimms uses what the British consider lemonade which is a fizzy drink, so the closest you’ll find to it here is a lemon flavored soda water. Mix the ingredients up in a big pitcher with cucumber, mint leaves, and some strawberries and you’re ready for a party!

  6. The Gentleman

    Hey Indulging,

    I give great deference to any British Pimm’s drinker.

    I will concur in part and dissent in part from your comment.

    Dissent: I’m pretty sure Pimm’s Cup is the most traditional name for the cocktail. It is called that on both vintage and modern bottles and a number of other sources refer to the cocktail as such.

    Concurrence: You are absolutely right about “lemonade” being a lemon soda in Britain and the cocktail being made with it across the pond. However, I think its a bit of an open question as to what it was made with originally. Bartenders that I have talked to insist upon it originally being made with lemonade (lemons, water, sugar) and ginger ale. Some instead, use 7-Up to keep it closer to the modern British version. I’d be interested to have a historical recipe to compare.

    In any case, thanks for the comments, I look forward to trying it in Britain the next time that I’m there. Cheers!

  7. Very cool. I have never heard of it or tried it before! Sounds great!

  8. Well this is new to me, but it looks and sounds delicious. Consider me intrigued!

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