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Summer Fruit Cup: Pimm’s

Written by Gin Foundry

A Pimm’s and lemonade is one of the most ubiquitous summer cocktails around. Just as soon as that big yellow ball in the sky starts to heat up, the plastic pitchers in the back of the cupboard come to life as if they’re straight out of a Disney film. They wriggle their way to kitchen centrepiece and before you know it, you’ve shaken off the dust and loaded them up with ice and fruit.

Few people realise however, that Pimm’s No.1 is in fact a type of infusion known as a “fruit cup” and that it is made from a gin base. Sweet and satisfying, with a low booze content and a high complexity, a good old Pimm’s is one of the most quintessentially British pastimes around. Fruity and herbal, with a spice depth that renders it both surprising and delicious, it is a universally adored cocktail, traversing all genders, classes, ages and races.

How to make a pitcher of Pimm’s: (Gin Foundry Style)

250ml Pimm’s
500ml Lemon Tonic
Half an orange, sliced into wheels
5 – 10 sliced strawberries
a handful of blueberries or raspberries
a bunch of slightly bruised mint leaves (or basil, for a more savoury kick)
Truck loads of ice

Add a good couple of handfuls of ice to your pitcher, followed by the fruit and mint. Top up with Pimm’s and lemon tonic and stir to cool. It’s simple, and blessedly so, as you’ll need to make another one in five minutes…

N.B. If you’ve clasped your hands to your face in horror at the omission of cucumber, well… shove it in. It’s your Pimm’s to do what you want with, but we prefer a fruity summer cup. Cucumber delivers an unbeatable freshness, but it also has an incredibly firm grip and an insistence on taking over, showering everything with an air of vegetation. In other controversy, yes - we went with Lemon Tonic and not lemonade, but that’s just personal too as we prefer it less sweet.

Tip: If you add mint as a garnish, don’t poke in in as the aroma of the leaves that give the greatest impact.

An abridged, inebriated history:

For the long version, click HERE. Otherwise… let’s clamber inside this nutshell. Pimm’s is a name that never gives up. Even alternative versions – those created by supermarkets or craft brands – will likely be referred to by the original brand name, rather than the lengthier summer cup, fruit cup or summer fruit cup names bestowed upon this fruit-salad-in-a-glass.

The original recipe was created in 1823 by James Pimm, the proprietor of an oyster bar in London, who created this gin-based liqueur as a digestive aid. The Pimm’s we know and love today became known as the “No.1 Cup,” (named for the tankard it was served in) with various others – 2, 3, 4 and 5 – made from different spirits.

By 1851, demand for the liqueur in other bars and restaurants meant that Pimm’s was moved to a large scale bottling production, becoming a brand somewhere along the way. James Pimm sold the business in 1865 and it went through many hands before landing in the lap of Diageo in 1997.

Pimm’s shows up at many, many events, from festivals to picnics to Wimbledon. The latter is probably one of the longest standing associations – when you think of Wimbledon, you think of Pimm’s. Surprisingly, the two have never been formally linked, with both opting for traditional ties over commercial sponsorship.

Summer fruit cup pimm's