There's pretty much nothing wrong with a perfect Pimm's Cup, and we tend to divide the year into Pimm's Cup Season and sad, cold Non-Pimm's Cup Season. But if you have a whole bottle of Pimm's No. 1 and you've drunk a Cup or four already, you might start to wonder what else you can make with it.
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I have to admit that the Pimm's Cup first got my attention because it's heavily garnished—sometimes with cucumbers or strawberries, other times with apples or orange slices. I'm a sucker for a cocktail that's also a snack. I take my Martinis with two olives when I am being polite in public and five when I make them at home. So it wasn't until my third Pimm's Cup that I bothered to ask the bartender what non-food items were in this magical drink. I was shocked that the answer was just "Pimm's and sparkling lemonade."
This brunch cocktail is drier than your standard Pimm's Cup, with just soda, ginger, and lemon slices instead of sweet sparkling lemonade, and wedges of heirloom cantaloupe instead of cucumbers (they're botanical cousins), and I left out all that fruit salad. It's a lovely, iced tea-colored sipper that really refreshes.
In this variant of the classic Scotch and Soda highball, Chris swaps out the Scotch for Irish Whiskey, and subs in a good proportion of Gin-based Pimm's. A dash of lemon juice and Angostura bitters add acidity and complexity to the mix, and ginger ale finishes it off.
The problem with Pimm's is that it's indelibly connected with the Pimm's cup, and as much as I like that drink, there's a tiny voice in my head that kinda resents the fact that I enjoy sipping a cocktail flavored with strawberries and consumed at fancy-pants boat races. So I've recently started looking for slightly manlier ways to incorporate Pimm's into my life.
For myself and many others, it's a drink that instantly evokes England. I see Pimm's and I think damp rolling green hills, punting down winding rivers, summer suits and boat races, manicured lawns and garden parties.
A gin-based spirit flavored with herbs and fruit, Pimm's is akin to a bottled punch. First introduced nearly 200 years ago, Pimm's was at one point produced in six varieties, each with a different base spirit. Today only Pimm's No. 1 remains in wide production; Pimm's Winter Cup, based on brandy, is seasonably available in the UK.