Personally, I feel that fully half of what makes the Pimm’s Cup such a beguiling summer cocktail is in the garnish.
There are multiple variants, of course. Honestly many of them look waaaay too complicated for a lazy summer day. I favor the ultra-simple slice of cucumber + slice of lemon. But note that I’m pulling out my aunt’s amazing antique cups for this… presentation is important.
Pimm’s makes a variety of styles, and that namesake cocktail made with the formulation known as No. 1 has traditionally been popular in the south of England, appearing as one of two staple drinks (the other sip of choice would be champagne) at such rarefied events as Wimbledon, the Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne opera festival.
Knowing all that, it’s interesting to see that the basic recipe for the classic Pimm’s Cup cocktail is dead simple. Common, even. No need to attend Wimbeldon to enjoy… You’ve got this.
2 oz Pimm’s No. 1
4 to 6 oz chilled lemonade (Some people use lemon/lime soda; I also like ginger ale)
Stir together gently. Pour over a few ice cubes in your fanciest cups. Garnish with: mint leaves and slices of cucumber and lemon (or orange, strawberry, apple… whatever looks nice)
Originally, the cocktail required borage leaves in lieu of mint/cucumber, but as borage is a bit tough to come by in U.S. markets, cucumber is the go-to garnish hereabouts.
But as I mentioned, I find the cucumber/lemon combo to be particularly magical. The cooling qualities of the cucumber alongside the citrus zip and punch of the lemon go a long way in gin-style cocktails (and Pimm’s No. 1 is one such blend) particularly since gin is, by nature, so herbaceous.
These days, I’ve even become a great fan of just drinking my lemon and cucumber slices in good old tap water. So simple, but the scent and flavor makes your drink more elegant… perfect for brunch, for time spent on the deck/patio/fire escape and for adding a touch of class to your next grill-fest.
Go ahead and throw some cheese, crackers and grapes or olives on a nice plate. See? Fancy.
Give it a try and see if you don’t become a convert.