anyone for pimm’s?

Paola Thomas, proprietor of mirrormirror and occasional Shelterrific contributor, is a Brit living in Seattle (her description, not mine). She offered to correct my American misconception of how to make a Pimm’s. Enjoy! –Mary T.

It’s the middle of May, and summer is fast approaching (unless you live in Seattle, when summer arrives promptly on the 5th of July). If you live in the UK, this means your thoughts are turning to rainy back-garden barbecues, rained-out cricket matches, and rain-soaked picnics, all of which are greatly enhanced by a large jug of Pimms. (It’s also the perfect accompaniment at summer events such as Wimbledon, Henley, and Glyndebourne as you sit freezing in a thin sleeveless summer frock with an inadequate wrap tugged around your shoulders. Believe me — I speak from experience.)

1) The first thing to do is track down a bottle of Pimm’s. Pimm’s was invented in 1823 by a Mr. James Pimm. The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, though it has a very citrus-y, herbal taste. It is useful to know that it is 25% alcohol by volume. I’ve been able to find Pimm’s at liquor stores in the US, but not everywhere.

Pimm’s No.1 Cup is gin-based and is the most commonly available type. At one time, there were six different “Cups,” each based on a different liquor, but nowadays only No.1 and the vodka-based No. 6 — my personal preference as I’m not a great gin drinker — are produced, though I haven’t been able to find no. 6 in the US. There is also a winter version, Pimm’s Winter Cup, based on brandy and winter spices.

2) The next bit is easy. Fill a pitcher full of ice and add one cup of Pimm’s to two cups of lemony soda (such as Sprite) or ginger ale. Keep adding in these proportions until you are happy with the amount.

3) Then go to town on the garnish. At the very least, add some half-moon slices of orange and lemon to bring out the citrus-y flavors of the drink. A very traditional British accompaniment is slices of cucumber (there’s something very delicious about picking slices of sweet alcohol-soaked cucumber out of your drink) and some sliced strawberries to make it look pretty.

4) Finally, gently crush a handful of baby mint leaves and stir them in. By the time you’ve finished, your pitcher should look like you’ve just added a small fruit salad. You see? It’s practically a health food! –Paola T.

Photo by Rupert Hennen

From our partners

i love pimms! we visited a friend and stayed with his family in london a few years back, and they had a little bbq one evening. we had pimms – it was delicious!

I love Pimms–the garnishes really make the drink.

jennifer in sf

“It’s practically a health food!” — I like your thinking, and will definitely be making some Pimm’s this summer (so in September or October here, but whatever.).


At which WA liquor stores have you found Pimm’s?

Pimm’s isn’t just a summer drink! My partner and I drink Pimm’s year round, it is our favorite afternoon “is it too early to drink well this is classy and British and therefore acceptable” drink– think 4 PM on lazy Saturdays.

There are as many variations of Pimm’s pitchers as there are… well… things there are a lot of. I’m a fan of Pimm’s, Lemonade, and a few cucumber wedges. Best sipped with someone you love, feet up, and chores ignored.


MMMM–Pimm’s! The cucumbers are my favorite part.

Did you see the recent blog post in the Guardian’s column called “How to Drink” about Pimms?


Thanks for this post! I’ve enjoyed some Pimm’s tonight because of it! :)

Kate: I found Pimm’s #1 at the liquor store in Snohomish, so my guess is you can find it at many of them. It was in the liqueur section, not the gin section.

That said, back in VA, I couldn’t find Pimm’s anywhere!


Pimm’s #1 was the first drink my father made me on my auspicious 21st birthday. With cucumber. It was delicious. You can still find it at BevMo here in the LA area. Don’t see it many other places.

Pimms with ginger beer instead of lemonade is a relatively new discovery for me but one I can heartily endorse. But I do think Pimms absolutely has to have cucumbers, it’s just not the same without it. And borage flowers add a certain blue beauty as well.

Pimms is the taste of long lazy summers frolicking on grass (be it a garden barbeque, frisbee in the park or pre-dinner drinks on the lawn) but it’s sacrilege to garnish it with anything other than mint leaves, cucumber slices and lemon wedges. No orange, no strawberries and god forbid you put apple slices in. (Also worth noting is that, should you really want to make it rocket-fuelled, you can pep a pitcher up with a good slug of gin.)

Im a brit living in the us and i love pimms! not many people seem to know about it but i am slowly educating everyone lol

I studied abroad at Oxford during college and drank pitchers-full of Pimms drinks. I never knew what it was but I’m really excited to try to track some down and make it. Thanks for the tip!