Recipe Review

Straight Up: Pimm’s Cup for the English Gardener

updated Jan 21, 2020
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Cool and crisp, with a citrusy, herbaceous tang, served over tinkling cubes of ice, Pimm’s Cup is the quintessential British summer drink. Although this tall refresher is most famously enjoyed by spectators at Wimbledon and at cricket matches and sailing regattas, it will be forever tied to gardening for me.

“Pimm’s” is both the name given to this long mixed drink as well as being the proprietary name of the gin-based, delicately spicy, iced-tea-colored spirit that serves as its base. At a relatively low 25% alcohol, Pimms No. 1 Cup (the spirit) blends nicely with lemonade, lemon-lime soda, or ginger ale, and is garnished with cucumber and lemon to make a Pimm’s Cup (the tall drink).

I had my first Pimm’s Cup while home from college one summer. Tired and bleary-eyed from too much time spent studying under the fluorescent lights of the library, the garden back at home was a welcoming oasis.

I spent the day with my British stepmother in the back yard, weeding the vegetable patch and checking on the strawberries, lavender, and roses. The afternoon passed quickly, and soon we could tell by the way the sun was slanting through the trees that it was nearly time to start preparing supper. After showering to freshen up and get the dirt from under our nails, we took a moment to sit on the back terrace, glasses in hand, admiring our day’s work.

Our tall, cool Pimm’s Cups were garnished with pale, crisp slivers of cucumber and lemon, and topped full with fragrant green borage and mint leaves plucked from the garden just moments ago.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Pimm’s Cup
makes one drink

1 1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
lemonade (or ginger ale or lemon-lime soda)
lemon slices
cucumber slices
(optional: orange slice, fresh borage and/or mint leaves, apple slices, strawberry)

Half-fill a Collins glass with ice and a few slices of cucumber, borage leaves, or other garnishes. Add measure of Pimm’s, then top up glass with lemonade or soda. Stir gently and add additional ice if neccessary. Garnish with slices of lemon and cucumber.
Related: Recipe: Lemonade Stand Lemonade

(Images: Nora Maynard)