Pimm’s No.1 Cup Cocktail

The sun is shining, it’s unseasonably warm and, in case you hadn’t heard, we have a royal wedding to celebrate. It’s officially Pimm’s O’Clock in Britain.

If you are unfamiliar with the Pimm’s phenomenon, let me try to explain. Pimm’s No.1 Cup is a tart and fruity (and slightly alcoholic) mixer, indigenous to this island. It makes its annual debut along with the sun tan lotion, and is often applied just as generously. The exact recipe for the cordial is a closely-guarded secret, but it’s something like a fruity, herby sweet (red) vermouth. In fact, if you can’t get your hands on Pimm’s, sweet vermouth is a decent substitute. Served ice cold, with lemonade (the British version, similar to 7-Up, not American squeezed lemons) and a slightly surprising mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, the first Pimm’s of the season is greeted with something akin to religious veneration.

After a gloriously sunny Easter break, the season is already in full swing and the stores are gearing up for a second push as Britons prepare for Friday’s street parties. The wedding starts early, which means we’ll all be sipping Pimm’s from before noon. Luckily it’s only 50 proof so, especially when diluted with 3 parts lemonade, its the ideal tipple for long, hot, celebratory occasions. Still, even 50 proof adds up, so if you’re planning to indulge in more than a glass or three, have a cab ready to take you home.


Pimm’s No.1 Cup Cocktail

(serves 2)

What You Need:

1/2 cup Pimm’s
1 1/2 cups lemonade
2 cucumber spears
2 slices orange
2 slices lime
2 slices lemon
1/4 apple, diced
2 strawberries, quartered
2 sprigs fresh mint
Ice cubes to serve

What You Do:

1. Divide your fruits, cucumber and mint between the glasses.
2. Drop a couple of ice cubes into each glass.
3. In a pitcher, mix the Pimm’s with the lemonade.
4. Pour it into the prepared glasses and serve immediately.

Notes for Next Time:

1. As noted above, if you can’t find Pimm’s, try using sweet (red) vermouth instead.
2. Use as many or as few of the fruit garnishes as you like. Purists say only the mint and citrus is required, but the others are very commonly used.
3. If you’re having a party, simply increase the amounts above, using the proportions of 3 parts lemonade to 1 part Pimm’s, as indicated on the bottle.
4. Lemonade in the UK is similar to 7-Up or Sprite in the US. Schweppes seems to be the most popular brand here.
5. To make a Pimm’s Royale, use champagne (or sparkling wine) in lieu of the lemonade.
6. Catering for kids, designated drivers and/or pregnant moms-to-be? Try making these with fig syrup instead of the Pimm’s. In the south of France, they have a lovely non-alcoholic drink called a Gambetta, which is essentially just that.