Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy: The Pimm’s Cup

“A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.”  And what better season to do all this than summer? The season of sun, surf, sand, and seersuckers is upon us. And while summer is a time to dress a little looser and laid back, one should still make an effort to be chic and classy in one’s choices.

Summer is a great excuse to ditch your dark, heavy wool suit and change out for a more casual cotton or linen slim-cut number in khaki or don a seersucker (despite what GQ says, unless you are on the runway, a rap star, or Don Johnson, do not wear a white one). Grab a fitted linen shirt (in white, light blue, or even pink) and switch your watch band to a ribbon band, which is inexpensive and gives an entirely new look to that same wrist piece you have been wearing all year. Use your next trip to the pool or beach as an excuse to finally ditch the wrap-around Oakleys (unless you are a professional beach volleyball player and, even then, wear them only on the beach) and your frat-boy croakie and buy a new pair of sunglasses (try tortoise shell for a classier alternative to black, or sport a colored frame - such as red or blue). The latest aviator and “Wayfarer” styles from both Ray-Ban and Persol are fantastic.

If you are by water, make sure your swimsuit fits; unless you are a surfer, there is no reason to have a pair that goes past your knee and, conversely, unless you are Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, there is no reason to sport a cut above your mid-thigh.  And never wear mandals (and certainly not with socks) -- you are not of the B.C. era. This rule must not be broken.

Although the weather is not an excuse to lose your sartorial coolness, it is an excuse to grab a cool drink. Leave the frozen daiquiris and cheap beach bar drinks to those with less couth and order (or better yet, make) yourself a Pimm’s Cup. What the Mojito is to Cuba and the mint julep is to America, the Pimm’s Cup is to England. The cocktail was originally created by James Pimm in the 1840s and is based on his fruit-and herb-infused gin (then and now sold as Pimm’s No. 1)1. The best part about the drink is that it could not be easier to make and, therefore, allows you more time in the sun and less time behind the bar. Plus, having an exotic drink (at least on this side of the pond) in your hand is a great conversation starter for those non-readers of this blog.

2. oz. Pimm’s No. 1
3 tbs. fresh lemon juice 
2 sprigs fresh mint
2 lemon slices
2 fresh strawberries, halved
3 slices of cucumber

Place 2 cucumber slices in tall glass and slightly muddle
Add Pimm’s and lemon juice
Fill glass 1/2way with fresh ice
Add lemon and strawberry slices on top of ice
Fill remainder of glass with ice (sandwiching the fruit)
Pour Sprite (or ginger ale) in glass until full
Stir and garnish with remaining cucumber and mint

The usual rule of drinks is that there is no right way to make a cocktail, but there are several wrong ones. This rule, however, generally does not apply to the Pimm’s Cup. While the traditional Pimm’s Cup is simply Pimm’s, ginger ale (or lemonade), and cucumber, you can spend the summer experimenting with various fruits and herbs (try adding blueberries, blackberries, rosemary or thyme), and even a bad version is still better than a watered down pina colada. Or try this version, as made in London Bar:

Pimm & Proper
Pour 2 oz of Pimm’s No. 1 into a tall glass
Add 1 oz Grey Goose L’Orange
Add 1 oz Lillet Route (a French aperitif wine)
Fill glass with 3-4oz of seltzer or ginger beer
Top with a dash of cranberry juice and a sprig of fresh mint

And since it is a long weekend (and the purpose of this blog is to spread my love of cocktails), I thought I would share another of my favorite summer drinks with you:

Moscow Mule
2 oz. Russian Standard vodka
Ginger beer until full
1 tsp. simple syrup
¼ oz. fresh lime juice
Garnish with one sprig mint

When making this drink, which is built in a highball glass over ice, I cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the mule. I then invert the lime half, making a “shot glass,” and float on top of the drink. Pour .5 oz of the vodka into the lime so that the liquor is on both the top and bottom of the drink.

~ Happy Memorial Day ~

1There were six Pimm’s products (all “fruit cups” - traditionally an English specialty drink designed to be made into a long drink with addition of a soft drink such as lemonade or ginger ale). But only Cups #1, #3 and #6 are still available in some form. The essential difference among them is the base alcohol used to produce them:
Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is based on gin. It has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. Its base as bottled is 25% alcohol by volume.
Pimm’s No. 2 Cup was based on Scotch whisky.
Pimm’s No. 3 Cup is based on brandy. A version infused with spices and orange peel marketed as Pimm’s Winter Cup is now seasonally available.
Pimm’s No. 4 Cup was based on rum.
Pimm’s No. 5 Cup was based on rye whiskey.
Pimm’s No. 6 Cup is based on vodka.


  1. Pimm's No. 3 and Pimm's No. 6 are both available in the UK and by mail order from the Whiskey Exchange.

    1. In fact, I have a bottle of each, if you're interested. The No. 3 is really nice with cider. The No. 6, I find somewhat bland.