Take a cocktail tip from across the pond.
About a decade ago, I was visiting a friend along Austin, Texas’s cocktail row—a two-block stretch of houses converted into bars along Rainey Street near downtown—when my taste in warm weather libations took an immediate left turn. I ordered an IPA and my friend, Karen, requested a Pimm’s Cup. Just staring at that dewy glass with its frothy head, cucumber-mint garnish, and iced tea hue, made me thirsty. Seeing my covetous expression, she offered a sip.
I was converted.
Sure, there’s something to be said for a margarita, mojito, or crisp G&T. But on a hot summer day, my preferred patio-pounder is now a Pimm’s Cup. Why? Because James Pimm’s gin-based liqueur, infused with its distinctive blend of bitter herbs and fruit (also know as a “fruit cup”), clocks in at a low-proof 25% ABV (many bottles are 40% or more).
Initially spun as a health tonic in mid-19th century London, Pimm’s greatest creation is far more sessionable than tequila, vodka, or straight gin concoctions. For proof, look no further than Wimbledon, where spectators consume more than 80,000 Pimm’s Cups pints over the course of two weeks—and yet are able to stay vertical during matches.
But here’s the thing, the possibilities for Pimm’s No. 1 don’t end at a splash of lemon juice and ginger beer (or lemon-lime soda). The slightly sweet, botanical notes in Pimm’s pairs great with spicy spirits such as rye whiskey or tequila, and complements vegetal ingredients like the thyme and carrot juice in our Thyme After Thyme cocktail. (See two more ways to use Pimm’s No. 1 below.)
Related: Seaside Sparkler Cocktail
Finally, you might be wondering about that “No. 1” in its name. Well, there used to be six different types of Pimm’s, each based around a different base spirit. Pimm’s No. 3 (brandy) and No. 6 (vodka) are still distributed in its home country, but the rest of the world is limited to the original. And considering Pimm’s No. 1’s versatility and downright sunny disposition, I’d say, that’s not such a bad thing.
Our Favorite Pimm’s No.1 Recipes
Thyme After Thyme
Lemony and minty thyme simple syrup shaken with fresh carrot juice and Pimm’s No. 1 makes for a cocktail with herbaceous complexity.
Get the Recipe: Thyme After Thyme
Sparkling Pimm’s Punch
Cucumber sparkling water (such a Spindrift) adds a little fizz to Pimm’s floral and citrus notes for a zippy pick-me-up on steamy summer afternoons.
Get the Recipe: Sparkling Pimm’s Punch
Pimm’s Cup Slush
The cucumber-y British classic goes frozen thanks to an ingenious addition of limeade concentrate.
Get the Recipe: Pimm’s Cup Slush