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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

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Cocktail, Summer, Long Reads, Editors' Picks, DIY Food, How-To & Diy