The Pimms Cup. What was once created to be a better tasting accompaniment to oysters has turned into a refreshing partner for the Olympics.
James Pimm owned a mid-1800s London oyster bar. Imagine London in the 1800s. Sea ports were everywhere and oysters were common place. Gin was almost abundant and the usual daily accompaniment.
James knew that his customers wanted a change, not just knock back in between freshly shucked mollusks. Apparently all that bitter gin and oyster got to them after awhile — imagine that!
Enter Pimm’s No. 1 Cup — sure you could still knock back some gin, but have a lingering taste of citrus, fruits and spices. Well as you can imagine this took off like wildfire and there was a demand for not only more No. 1, but more variety of Pimm’s. Jim and company came up with a total of six cups over the years. Each with a different base alcohol — No. 1, gin; No. 2, scotch; No. 3, brandy; No. 4 rum; No. 5, rye whisky; No. 6, vodka — each with a distinctive, yet recognizable taste. Only No. 1 and No. 6 currently remain in production, with a version of No. 3 seasonably produced.
In more recent decades, creative cocktail folks have developed the Pimm’s Cup:
1.5 oz Pimm’s No.1
1.5 oz Ginger ale
1oz Fresh lemon juice
5 sprigs of Fresh mint
.75 oz Simple Syrup
Smash mint to release oils. Combine ingredients in shaker glass. Shake over ice. Pour into a highball glass. Top with ginger ale. Garnish with cucumber and lemon.
This refreshing use of a classic alcohol has been historically enjoyed at Wimbledon and the Henly Royal Regatta but in recent years has begun to return to its rightful place in the cabinets of everyday Britons. “It’s Pimm’s O’Clock” somewhere in England right now. Even more recently the drink has crossed the pond for regular folk, although it’s been enjoyed at polo and croquet matches for some time — New Orleans seems to have taken a particular liking to the concoction.
Wherever you are, you can be guaranteed a good cocktail for any occasion with a Pimm’s Cup or two — class it up at your local croquet match, or have a Pimm’s O’Clock happy hour at your house. With the history behind it, you can join in the tradition. Now where did I leave my oysters?