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How to Make a Pimm's Cup

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If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook -- and what to drink. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: Managing Editor Kenzi Wilbur makes a case for muddling your market produce. Just add booze. 

Pimm's Cup Cocktail

Genetics dictate that I’m predisposed to liking whiskey and campfires more than I am lawn cocktails and pastel cardigans. And yet every summer, circa July, I deviate for a Pimm’s Cup.  

If you don’t do the same, you should: I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like a Pimm’s Cup. Much like the Tom Collins, it’s an agreeable soul, a refreshing blend of things that everybody is at least friendly with and nobody hates. You can set a pitcher of them out at a party without host anxiety. You can make enough for everyone to have two -- okay, three -- and never have to send anyone home. Pimm’s Cups are an easy, refreshing, low-alcohol win.  

An oft-adapted blend of cucumber, strawberries, mint, and booze, the Pimm’s Cup cherry-picks the best produce from the recipes you thought you were going to make (the salad, shortcakes, and pesto can wait), and it gently suggests you combine it with a gin-based liqueur instead.

How to Make a Pimm's Cup Cocktail

It may be a fruit salad of a cocktail, but it’s not a pushover: herbal botanicals (a "secret" recipe, according to the bottle's label) give it just enough funk going down. And if you top it with ginger ale instead of lemonade, it has a subtle sting. John Ginnetti -- the owner of 116 Crown in New Haven, where I had my first -- adds a squeeze of lemon before shaking to keep everything from skewing sweet. 

The fatal mistake most Pimm’s Cups make is not embracing the whole garden-in-the-glass thing it already has going. It wants to be fruit-logged. It begs for a second cucumber slice. (Or, as Ginnetti says, at least “2 fingers’ worth” in the bottom of your shaker.) Here’s another thing to love: This cocktail measures itself in fingers and palmfuls and squeezes. For a drink with such a prim reputation, its execution is a little more country than we give it credit for. 

Here’s how Ginnetti does it, and how you should do it, too: Throw two thick cucumber slices, a strawberry or two, and that palmful of mint into a shaker. Muddle like you mean it. Pour in the Pimm’s No. 1, add a squeeze of lemon to make sure everything is paying attention, then shake like it’s not 90 degrees outside.   

How to Make a Pimm's Cup Cocktail

If you’re looking for something a little more wide awake, add two squeezes of lemon. If you lean sweeter, toss your berries, as Ginnetti often does, in a slick of honey before you muddle them. If it’s booze you’re after, you can replace a measure of your Pimm’s with gin. I don’t, because the point of a Pimm’s cup is not to make a man out of you. But it’s open if you are. 

You’ll want to double strain, lest you end up with something closer to a smoothie than a cocktail. And you’ll want to go all out with your garnishes. It's summer; your glass should look precisely like a circus.   

Pimm's Cup Cocktail

Pimm’s Cup 

Serves 1 

A palmful of mint leaves
2 fingers’ worth of cucumber (about two 1/2-inch thick slices)
1 large or 2 medium strawberries
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
1 large squeeze of lemon
Best quality ginger ale  

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Eric Moran

Tags: what to cook now, pimm's cup, cocktail, drink, recipe, summer, how-to & diy

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Comments (15)


about 1 year ago Pratsina Glitsa

Pimm's 2 to 5 are no longer made
They do make a bramble and elderflower one as a " special edition" I wouldn't recommend it.
They also make a Winter Warmer which is popular in , er, cold weather. You put a stick of cinnamon and some grated nutmeg in a glass or whatever,add the Pimm's and then fill up with warmed apple juice or cider. A favourite with certain ladies of my acquaintance but I eschew it in favour rib warming rum


about 1 year ago Sosyphus42

Whatever happened to Pimm's Cups 2 through 5? I remember them from the China Fleet Club in Hong Kong in the early 60's.


about 1 year ago gingerjillian

My gosh I love your writing.


about 1 year ago Windischgirl

Had my first Pimm's Cup at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011, and it was lovely! A year later, the Philadelphia Flower Show had a British theme, and when we asked at the cocktail kiosks for a Pimm's, the bartender misheard us and added an additional "P" to the beverage's name... Philly being just a bit less genteel than London! We settled for the Chardonnay instead.


about 1 year ago LauriL

I raise my Pimm's Cup to this wonderful article and set of photos. The Kenzi and Eric duo arrive at perfection once again!!


about 1 year ago Tremayne Carew Pole

Have you ever thought about trying Sipsmith Summer Cup - it's like Pimm's but subtler and hand-crafted - http://www.sipsmith.com...


about 1 year ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

This is my favorite thing in the whole world. Had my first Pimm's Cup 2 months ago, and I was smitten at the first sip.


about 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Really there's nothing not to like in a Pimm's Cup. You just need a porch (or a fire escape, which works in a pinch).


about 1 year ago Cristina Sciarra

I'll third that--great article, gorgeous photos.


about 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thank you! You and two red bowls are too nice. We need to have a Brooklyn meet-up.


about 1 year ago Cristina Sciarra

Yes! A picnic? I'm in. You bring the drinks.


about 1 year ago cynthia | two red bowls

I second cate -- a beautifully written piece on one of my favorite drinks. Thank you for this!


about 1 year ago Rachel Phipps

I found this really interesting to read, as as a Brit, using the same measured attitude towards mixing up Pimm's (I still think making it as a single cocktail instead of a jug is strange, but I can see its benefits) is pretty alien to me!


about 1 year ago cate

Perfect piece on a perfect cocktail. Thanks, Kenzi.


about 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks cate! Here's to drinking them this weekend. ( / tonight)