Sunday, May 18, 2014

Graduation Weekend Cocktail: Pimm's No. 1 Cup

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: To me, there's only one cocktail for summer events that involve walking about on a manicured lawn in a pretty dress: Pimm's No. 1 Cup. I'm going to quote here: 

 Pimm's originated in an Oyster Bar in Poultry Street, in the City of London, owned by James Pimm in 1840. Here he created the Pimm's 'house Cup' flavoured with liqueurs, and fruit extracts. He rapidly built up a chain of restaurants in a variety of locations, including The Old Bailey and other places "to be seen" for City businessmen of the day. James Pimm is said to have blended his famous 'No 1 Cup', on the premises and it was then sold in pints in pewter tankards. 

By 1859, Pimm's was on sale outside of the restaurants and in 1865, the company was sold to Frederick Sawyer and the first bottle of Pimm's was sold for 3 shillings. The company was sold on again in 1875, this time to Sir Horatio Davies, who in the following years expanded the sale of the drink. It could be found not only the UK, but also throughout the British Empire and the association of the drink with all things British began. 

 The No 1 cup is as popular today as ever. The first Pimm's bar opened at the world-famous Wimbledon tennis tournament in 1971, and every year over 80,000 pints of Pimm's with Lemonade are sold to spectators. 

How to make this traditional treat? 

1. One part Pimm's No. 1 Cup to three parts lemonade over ice (though I've had some very nice Pimm's where the drink has been shaken with ice and served neat.) 

2. Add fresh mint and thin slices of cucumber. Those are the must-haves; you can also include combinations of orange slices, lemon, apples or strawberries. (See? It's not just drink, it's part of the RDA of fruits and vegetables!) 

3. Be careful not to spill if you wore heels to stand on the lawn. We're going to be looking for Pimm's Cup after the graduation luncheon tomorrow!


  1. Whether it’s Pimm’s or something else, let’s all raise our glasses for a congratulatory toast to the graduate . . . here’s to a bright and happpy future . . . .

  2. Yes, congratulations and good luck to all school graduates today. Cheers!

  3. Julia, we should clarify that in British terminology, "lemonade" is what we Americans would call 7-Up.

    I have made Pimm's with all manner of fruits--everything works!--but personally don't care for 7-Up. I use sparkling water, or, for something extra-delicious, a good ginger ale like Reed's, or even a ginger beer. Yum!


  4. Congratulations to all! Cheers!

    I also like Pimm's with tonic or club soda....

  5. Congratulations graduates! I finally tasted my first Pimm's cup a couple of months ago. I think it and mojitos are the perfect summer drink. Thanks for the clarification Debs. I didn't think lemonade was part of the equation of the drink I tasted!

  6. Fabulous! And cheers! I've never had a Pimm's cup..but must do!

    And remind me to make a "Bestseller" for you all--that's what Jonathan and i named our concoction of pink grapefruit liqueur, vodka and fresh lime. Shaken with ice, into a martini glass. Yum!

    Plus, it's fun when Jonathan asks: Would you like a bestseller?
    Answer: YES!

    Happy Graduation!

  7. Haven't seen this mentioned (or available) since the Seventies. Shouldn't it be served in a pewter tankard?

  8. I love mojitos so I am willing to try Pimm's -- and congratulations to everyone who is celebrating on these busy days of May and June!!

  9. Hank--What a great name for a drink!
    What does Pimm's taste like?

  10. Pimm's is a great addition to my thirst for knowledge of all things English, and the history of it is appreciated. Thanks for the heads-up on the Seven-up, Debs. I can't wait to try one of these somewhere. To my shame, I've lived in Kentucky my whole life and never had a Mint Julep, even though I have two silver julep cups (I will deny this lapse in front of fellow Kentuckians).

    Hank, you are such a hoot. Best Seller is such a clever name, but, then, you are a clever person. And, you can truthfully answer yes to having "best sellers" in both senses of the phrase.

    Julia, I join the others in saying cheers and congratulations to the graduate and her family. Bravo, new graduate!

  11. Congratulations to the Smithie and her lovely mother!

    It sounds like Pimm's is the British sangria. I'll have to try it.

  12. Congratulations! Have a fabulous day! I'm still trying to remember who the speaker was at my last graduation...? Had to look it up—Harold Varmus... no wonder I forgot. Too bad I didn't graduate on time when the commencement speaker was Vaclav Havel.

  13. 422I am all for cheering on graduates, but the thought of adulterating perfectly good alcohol with fruit and vegetables is beyond the pale.

    As someone who’s been clean and sober for over 30 years, I gotta say, you amateurs are something else. :)))

  14. I had a Pimms last night in London and intend to drink another one tonight in honor of Smithie and her parents.

  15. I don't think we have those down in Tucson, but I'll join you with an imaginary one until I find a proper source.