While many Americans continue to carry torches for the splashy mojitos, sangrias, and margaritas we borrowed from Latin cultures to get us through the summer, the British have stayed loyal to their classic refresher: Pimm’s Cup.
Their love affair with the central ingredient, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, dates back to 1823, when a gent named James Pimm created the beverage to wash down the oysters he served at his London bar. In those days it came straight, but today’s cocktail is livened up with ginger ale, Sprite, or lemonade, and slices of oranges, lemons, and strawberries.
The liqueur itself is made with a secret blend of herbs that enhance the botanicals in the gin. “You get a hint of spice and citrus,” says James Blyther, a London native and the food and beverages assistant manager at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. “In England, you can buy it by the bucketload.”
At the inn, guests enjoy it by the glass, and it’s made with mint straight from potted plants on the bar. The dark tea color gives the drink the look of an Arnold Palmer. And the alcohol content of Pimm’s No.1 is just 25 percent, so it’s an easy sip. To jazz it up, substitute champagne for the Sprite, ginger ale, or lemonade, to create a Pimm’s Royal Cup.
The real question is, do bartenders in the States make the cup as good as the Brits? “Just as good, but not better,” Blyther says with a laugh. “But I’m biased.”