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

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