The creation of the Pimm’s Cup dates back to the early 1800s and is credited to James Pimm, owner of a London oyster bar. Pimm was a smart fellow who understood the value of both fruity-flavored libations and clever marketing campaigns. He infused gin with various secret spices, barks, and citrus peels and sold the dark umber concoction in, you guessed it, a cup as a digestive aid and malarial preventive. Tastes great and fights the fever: What’s not to love?
Mixed with carbonated lemonade or ginger ale and garnished with fresh mint and chopped fruit (most commonly apples, strawberries, and oranges), the cocktail version became a staple at Wimbledon, not to mention flower shows, regattas, and polo matches—pretty much anywhere you might find yourself in the heat under a wide-brimmed hat.
Which means it’s Pimm’s o’clock for the foreseeable future in Dallas.
I’ve tried the strawberry route, but I find that my favorite Pimm’s Cup takes advantage of late season cucumbers in all their watery, seedy glory. The ones that are too bulbous for snacking are just right for muddling.
Pimm’s Cup With Muddled Cukes
1/4 cucumber, cut into wheels
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
1 ounce gin (any London Dry Gin will do, but I’m a fan of Nolet’s Silver Gin, which is actually Dutch and floral-forward with notes of peach, raspberry, and Turkish rose)
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)
3/4 ounce simple syrup (bring one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a boil, then remove from heat and cool)
Topo Chico or sparkling water
Bitters (I use a homemade pear bitters that adds lovely notes of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves)
Optional garnishes: fresh mint, sliced strawberries, and orange wheels
In a cocktail shaker, muddle a handful of cucumber slices until they are fairly mushy and start to release their liquid (keep it simple and leave the peel on). Add the Pimm’s, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with Topo Chico or sparkling water. Add a few drops of bitters to taste and garnish with a cucumber wheel.