It all started in 1823 -- James Pimm needed a new house drink for his oyster bar, where the gin-swilling clientele were jonesing for something to delicately sip on, not knock back. Enter Pimm's Cup No. 1, a gin-based concoction of fruit and liqueurs invented to perfectly complement the seasonal seafood. By 1851, Pimm had created two more variations (scotch and brandy) of what would eventually become a collection of six bottled drink recipes. Pimm's No. 1 still reigns supreme, and its famous flavor has long left the oyster bar for more widespread glory. Light and refreshing, a Pimm's Cup is a drink for summer, and in during England's warmer months you can see how popular it really is -- pub patrons drink Pimm's by the pitcher, and picnickers in London parks sip on canned, premixed versions of the classic without their traditional fruit garnishes.
Pimm's Cup is a star of Wimbledon, served at the tournament alongside strawberries and cream, and it's the drink of choice on both sides of the pond to celebrate the London Olympics.
Sparkling lemonade or ginger ale (French lemonade, light in color and sans pulp, works best. I make mine with Trader Joe's Sparkling French Lemonade, but any kind will do.)
Pimm's No. 1
One lemon, thinly sliced in circles
One English cucumber, thinly sliced in circles
One handful of strawberries, vertically halved
Fill your glass, pitcher, or beverage holder of choice with ice.
Mix one part Pimm's with one part sparkling lemonade.
Stir, then garnish with however many lemon, cucumber, and strawberry slices comfortably fit (or one of each per cup).
The fruit garnishes make Pimm's Cup look complicated, but really, this is an easy recipe, and all the better for the subtle taste and fragrance of lemon, cucumber, and strawberry. Serve yours up in glasses or pitchers while you watch the Olympic games and feel free to do as many have for the past 100+ years: spike with gin when your team is down. Or up. Cheers!