It was probably a sunny afternoon at some backyard barbecue, or perhaps a picnic during a long hot day that I was first introduced to Pimm’s and ginger ale. I remember how fresh, cool, and crisp the drink was and asking how on earth so many years had passed before I experienced this well balanced cocktail. I even remember my girlfriend (now wife, who doesn’t drink) remark on how satisfying the flavor was – especially for a non-drinker. So the day ended, and I, and my wife, promptly forgot the splendid flavor that highlighted that afternoon barbecue … or picnic. That was years ago, I don’t know how many, and the thought of a Pimm’s and ginger ale easily faded into a memory of a gathering, at a place, with people I don’t even remember. It happens.
Thankfully, like an old friend you run in to, and feel as if ne’er a day has passed, I recently found a wonderful Pimm’s Cup cocktail on the new drink menu at The Old Fashioned restaurant in Madison, WI. I tried it, and it was like kissing an old flame, or trying on my favorite old jacket – and it still fit! They have crafted a fine recipe for this spirit that I can say surpasses my initial Pimm’s and ginger ale so long ago. Rediscovering this spirit also inspired some rather relevant questions, such as “What the hell is Pimm’s anyway?!”
I responded in my usual, “Well I heard – but don’t quote me on this …” manner, and went on to say that I thought it was a juniper/gin based drink that was drank as a digestive. Then I smiled, awkwardly, thinking where the heck did I get that from.
“Why don’t we look at the bottle?” Someone more intelligent than I remarked. So the bottle was pulled off the shelf and the label on the back was read: …PIMM’S CUP NO.1 RECIPE IS A WELL GUARDED SECRET…
It appears more investigation would be needed.
London’s dandiest city gents loved to partake in oysters and gin. But with its bitter tang gin was knocked back, not savoured. Enter shellfish-monger James Pimm and his famous central London ‘Oyster Bar’ in 1823. Patrons soon swallowed oysters with the PIMM’S ‘house cup’ — flavoured with liqueurs and fruit extract, this more palatable long drink ‘gin-sling’ kick-started the great British PIMM’S story.
I am happy to say that the memory puddle in the dark cave I call my brain had not failed me. In fact, it is originally gin based, and a digestive, and has a rather interesting and long history dating back to 1823. I have included a site link, so you too can wow your future father in law with knowledge you will forget, then remember, as you are trying to impress him during that awkward visit to his favorite supper club in Rhinelander.
So if you find yourself in downtown Madison,WI, please take a moment to sample the Pimm’s Cup at The Old Fashioned restaurant… if it’s your first time, brace yourself, it tends to tickle you in places you may have long forgot:
The Old Fashioned Pimm’s Cup
Pimm’s No. 1 with Stoli Orange
Vodka, Bittercube Blackstrap
Bitter, Ginger Beer and
But mostly, I recommend you welcome in the coming Spring by rediscovering the joy of Pimm’s!