Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pimm's & Lemonade, just the tonic

Should I give you the recipe?

photograph picture how to make the recipe for pimms and lemonade pims and lemonade no 1 cup

The English are on a roll this week, here at Becks & Posh. We didn't suck at puddings on Monday and we don't suck at booze today, either. I could recite the 'proper' way to fix up a Pimm's but that's not the way I do it. In a perfect world I'd have mint leaves at the ready, I would have made borage flowers into pretty little ice cubes, ginger ale and European-style sparkling white lemonade would both be in stock, the English cucumber and lemons would have been sliced thin, perhaps with the help of a mandolin, and on my person there would be, not only a cocktail shaker, but also a little measuring cup to get the ratio of one ingredient to the next exactly correct.

But hey! Pimm's is a perfect picnic drink and so the harsh reality is that I usually just throw some ice in a plastic cup, splash in some Pimm's together with haphazard slices of cucumber and wedges of lemon, hacked into shape with only the help of a plastic knife. And then I fill up the glasses with 7-Up, because American lemonade is yellow and it doesn't have bubbles. I don't have to measure anything at all, I've made Pimm's & Lemonade enough times I can just about tell by the colour, whether or not I have the balance right. And anyway, when I am playing bartender, I have the right to taste it too, don't I? Just to make sure everything is in perfect order.

So what does Pimm's taste like anyhow? It's a touch orange zest and slightly caramel with herbal undertones. This drink is more difficult to palate without the help of a mixer (although I personally know at least two people who do not appear to share that opinion). Once you add the lemonade the result is refreshing and sweet which is why some people like to balance it out with ginger ale too. But cucumber is the magician at the Pimm's party who knocks this cocktail into imcomparable shape, infusing the mixture with the scent of a savoury summer. It's like salad and dessert all in one drink.

Now, contrary to what your senses might tell you and despite the fact this cocktail glides towards your gullet at easily as a glass of water, please beware that Pimm's does, in fact, contain 25% alcohol. And even though a full bottle won't last 5 adults more than two swift rounds, don't underestimate the effect it might have on your balance. Especially if you are lucky enough to be picnicing on a boat.

Links, Resources and Further Reading

Andrew of Spittoon with the complete guide to Pimm's
Anyone for Pimm's?

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Ok - you just have to check out last year's post just to see what an embarassing fool I was making of myself back then. All good daft fun!

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Pimm's & Lemonade, just the tonic


  • At 18/7/06 23:18, Blogger Tea said…

    I love Pimm's and will take it any way I can get it--haphazard, hacked, however. Such a rare treat here in SF. You're officially invited to my next picnic, Sam. Now if only I could get my hands on a boat...

  • At 19/7/06 04:05, Blogger alexa said…

    just a quick note for any readers planning on mixing up a batch (more so for things like garden parties than informal picnics) - the proper Pimms/lemonade ratio I've always been told is 1 part Pimms to 3 parts lemonade.

  • At 19/7/06 05:18, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    Could "Sprite" be substituted for your European Lemonade?

  • At 19/7/06 05:29, Blogger *fanny* said…

    I love pimms and lemonade. My favourite drink ever (well one of my favourite drinks!)...


  • At 19/7/06 07:10, Blogger virtuallyeric said…

    I really miss proper lemonade! I used to drink it all the time in Australia, Schweppes being the brand of choice. It was lovely with a shot of vodka and a dash of bitters - and making it with 7-up or Sprite just isn't quite the same. Just a bit too sweet for my taste... True lemonade is just the ticket!

  • At 19/7/06 12:38, Blogger Rachael Narins said…

    Well my dear, that is indeed a fantastic cocktail. And the brilliant (well, almost, were it not for that pesky 500 miles between us)news is that they sell Schweppes lemonade at several stores in the LA area. There must be a spot in your neck of the woods that carries the stuff, because you are right, Pimms just doesnt taste the same without it...


  • At 19/7/06 16:03, Blogger Catherine said…

    I've had Pimms on my mind the last couple of days. How'dya know?

    Great post and pic!

  • At 19/7/06 16:10, Blogger KT said…

    I love a Pimm's cup in the summer ...

    And Jennifer's cocktail sounds like it would be delicious with Pimm's in place of the vodka.

    Hmmmm .......

  • At 19/7/06 18:07, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have never tried Pimm's, like Jennifer, but I'm now very curious :) Sounds refreshing!

  • At 19/7/06 19:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Haven't tried Pimm's cup in many years. I remember not liking it -- mainly because I got sicky-smashed on it -- when an Anglophile photographer in Manhattan insisted on serving it (with no options) at his Village townhouse. In pewter cups. Your spritely version sounds palatable to me now. Hmmm. Maybe I'll give it a go. I especially like the idea of borage blossoms in the ice cubes, something even himself couldn't accomplish in those days.

  • At 19/7/06 22:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love Pimm's. The best drink in the summertime!!

  • At 20/7/06 03:44, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Hi Sam

    Haha, must be telepathy. with both of us doing a watery Pimms post this week! I thought I was being *awfully* clever with the rowing eight in the background...! Nice description of what Pimms tastes like - it really is the most refreshing drink. The first time I saw it with the cucmber slices I though "revolting!" but now I wouldn't have it any other way (OK, who am I kidding, I'll have it any way I can get it!). At our picnic wedding we served Pimms & lemonade plus fresh oysters to the guests while we were having our photos taken. Sigh.

  • At 20/7/06 06:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    oh i love pimms!
    i even got my local bar (what we call our "other livingroom") to stock it so i can imbibe in their lovely free aircon and watch free yankees games

    of course they don't have proper lemonade, and i despise the taste of sprite, so i generally consume it with gingerale and a healthy squeeze of lemon
    non-trad i know, but tasty all the same!

  • At 20/7/06 09:20, Blogger Kevin said…

    I buy a bottle of Pimms No. 1 every spring. But, being a heretic at heart, I make what I call a Dogwood which consists of 1 jigger Pimms, 2 jiggers club soda, and the juice of 1/4 lime. Not too sweet and highly refreshing.

  • At 20/7/06 11:18, Blogger Julie said…

    I love that English lemonade! When I lived in London, I had it all the time. It also pairs well with vodka:) I don't know why we our markets can import marmite and salad cream, but not fizzy lemonade. Sprite and 7UP just aren't the same. I'll have to try some Pimm's this summer.

  • At 20/7/06 15:52, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The original Pimm's bottle from the 60's to 90's called for mixing Pimm's with bitter lemon soda. When schweppe's made it harder to get their bitter lemon a new recipe appeared on the back of the bottle. Schweppe's bitter lemon is THE ONLY thing to mix with Pimm's. It lifts this drink to an entirely higher level of wonder and refreshment. I have been known to beg, harrass, cry, petition, bribe my local liquor store into finding Schweppe's bitter lemon over the subsequent years. However, now a company in S. California, Beverages and More, seems to carry it most of the time. When I go in there I buy 10 6-packs at a time to make sure I don't run out. Sprite, lemon-lime, gingerale just do not do it. Trader Joe's carries a lemon soda which seems to come from Prince Charles estates in England that is a better second choice than the other mixes. For a hot summer day this is my favorite alcoholic beverage. Enjoy!!

  • At 21/7/06 12:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    tea - you can pimms in mollie stones I found it in the sausalito branch).

    alexa - thanks - the link to andrew's bog has a lot of good pimms recipes with correct measurements too.

    wmm- yes but i loathe these options truly

    fanny - girl after my own heart ( to have more than one favourite drink!)

    eric - i agree - we use the french style lemonade when we are being less thrifty, but i wish I could get some R Whites

    Jennifer - you must replace the vodka with pimms in your drink forthwith!

    Rachael - it sounds like LA has a bit of a schweppes thing going on which SF is missing out on, obviously. I am going tohave to go to bevmo like someone suggested in a previous post

    catherine - enjoy your bottle, I'll have to put bets on how long it lasts you.

    KT - I agree!

    joey - go for it

    kudzu - go for it too, mollie stones is your friend for Pimm's

    clairechen - oh yes!

    jeanne - we are both awfully clever, obviously!

    ann - actually ginger ale is a traditional accompaniment too so you are doing good

    kevin - oh you are a tough one. I know a couple of boys who might like that, but me I need a little sugar i think.

    julie there are rumours that you can get it in LA!

    maureen - was that in america only? I am pretty certain and checked all my cocktail books including an older english one, that regular lemonade not bitter lemon is and was the standard mixer. I am going to check to see if the SF bevmo has schweppes too. I would be delighted - since i was remissing about bitter lemon just a few posts ago.

    helen - well you started how you should mean to go on, obviously!

    lynda - we too canget the french lemonade but i think it is very expensive, and the 7up was easier to carry onto the boat. french lemonade would be my first choice otherwise.

    thanks to everyonefor joining in this pimm's conversation!

  • At 22/7/06 01:31, Blogger kishko said…

    it's pimm's season here as well! but i also add a splash of ginger ale to my lemonade pimm's is that sacrilegious??

  • At 24/7/06 13:45, Blogger Sam said…

    kishko - not at all - it is actually quite the done thing.

  • At 26/7/06 01:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    'Great minds think alike, fools never differ', as my dad always said.

    The main problem for British expats in the US isn't getting hold of Pimm's, although some states' tight grip on liquor sales can make it tricky. It's the lemonade. Lorina is pricy enough, while Schweppes or R. Whites are impossible to find if you're away from a big city with a British-expat community.

    Sprite and other lemon-lime sodas are just wrong enough for them not to work at all, and make you resort to ginger ale. And bitter lemon... oh, such a 70s thing, but I now realise how much I miss it. And wonder if there's a way to make it myself.


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