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Pimm's Cup


Makes 1

The Pimm's Cup cocktail and the liqueur it’s made from are named for nineteenth-century London restaurateur James Pimm. The 2009 book Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink mentions that Pimm began serving a light, tall highball/Collins-esque tonic in place of the typical stout or spirit punch to accompany platters of fresh oysters. By the 1850s, the base mixture from Pimm’s Oyster Bar (which saw a few different locations throughout the city over the years) was eventually bottled and marketed.

Through the centuries, six Pimm’s expressions were commercialized with a different base spirit. The most successful has been the gin-based No. 1 Cup, which is akin to a sling, made with fruit flavourings (mostly citrus), liqueurs, herbs, spices, and sugar. 

The basic recipe is simple, but like the Bloody Mary or Sherry Cobbler, the garnishes and flavourings used in modern Pimm’s Cup presentations vary wildly, depending on the interpretative fancies of the bartender mixing it.

In summertime at London’s Lido Café in Hyde Park, Pimm’s Cups are often served by the pitcher. Across the pond, they’re one of the most-ordered cocktails at the storied Napoleon House in New Orleans. While at the now-closed Ward III in New York City, Pimm’s were spiced up with ginger beer instead of ginger ale, sometimes with the addition of Amaro Montenegro. The Copper Grouse in Manchester, Vermont even mixes theirs with mezcal. Here’s the basic recipe from which to launch your Pimm’s whims.

Year: 1823

Origin: London, UK

Inventor: James Pimm

Premises: Pimm’s Oyster Bar

Alcohol Type: Pimm’s Cup
Glassware: Highball or Pint

60 ml (2 oz) Pimm’s Cup liqueur (pick your number, but you’ll mostly find No. 1 available)

15 ml (½ oz) fresh lemon juice

Ginger ale, to top

Garnishes: mint sprig, 1 or 2 lemon slices, orange slice, 1-inch (2.5 cm) slice of cucumber, 1 strawberry, sliced*


Add the Pimm’s and lemon juice to a highball or pint glass and stir to combine. Add ice cubes, then top with ginger ale. Arrange the garnishes in the glass.


NOTE  Some venues opt to muddle the strawberry slices in the glass before adding the Pimm’s and lemon, then add more strawberry for garnish. It’s never a bad idea.

Extracted from the book Signature Cocktails by Amanda Schuster, published by Phaidon.

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