Pimm’s Cup in January? Why the Hell Not?

It’s unseasonably warm today. That’s a perfectly good excuse to revisit the topic of the Pimm’s Cup, yes? I know at least one person who thinks so, so here we go.

George examined the phenomenon before, noting Pimm’s gin-based roots. A few months later, in an obvious copycat maneuver, the New York Times followed suit:

As summer arrives, sandwich-board signs hawking warm-weather drinks sprout on city sidewalks: sangria, margaritas, daiquiris, mojitos and other coolers born of hot-weather countries. Lately, a fancy standard from less-than-balmy Britain has joined them.

That would be the Pimm’s Cup, a refreshing highball that uses the spicy-sweet British liqueur Pimm’s No. 1 as its bedrock. A decade ago, its inclusion on a summer drinks menu would have been an oddity. But drinkers and bartenders are better schooled today, and more welcoming. As a result, the tea-colored spirit has become almost as common as, well, tea.

Well splendid, I thought. It’s far from summer, but it’s the most temperate January day I can recall in some time. And my boss is on vacation, too. Might as well sneak out of the office and give this a try. I slipped out the back door and made my way to the nearby bar where Peter was twiddling his thumbs.

“Blatz?” he asked. He knows me.

“Actually, I’d like a Pimm’s Cup,” I replied.

“The way we make it, or a real one?”

“A real one.”

“Remind me what that is.”

I read the description from the Times article: “[t]he drink’s skeletal components are nothing more than a measure of Pimm’s and roughly three measures of either lemonade, lemon soda or ginger ale (your preference), served over ice in a long glass and typically garnished with cucumber.”

“Oh, I can do that,” he said. “Easy. Which way do you want?”

“What’s easiest?”

“Any of them.”


“Yes, really.” He was getting testy.  “It’s a matter of what you want.”

“Hell, I dunno,” I said helpfully.

He glared at me for a moment and then wandered down the bar. A moment later he was back with a pint glass that looked vaguely like an iced tea with cucumber. “Try that.”

I sipped. Hot damn, it was refreshing. Crisp, a bit spicy, and sweet but not overly so.

“I feel like a Pimm’s Cup is one of those things where no one really knows what it is and everybody makes it their own way,” Peter explained. “So I made it how I think I’d like it. I muddled a couple of cukes, poured two ounces of Pimm’s, and added a ginger beer press.” (That’s half ginger beer and half club soda. I made him explain because I forget these things.)

I congratulated him and finished the beverage in order to head back to work. Based on the forecast, I’ll be turning to hot toddies tomorrow. But I’m sure there will be a nice balmy day for a Pimm’s Cup again soon. Three, four months, tops.