Why It Works
- Easily available ingredients makes this DIY version ridiculously easy to make.
- Play with the flavor profile to adjust to your personal preference by adding ingredients like sherry, Campari, and simple syrup or increasing the amount of gin.
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. And my Bloody Marys are a well-balanced meal involving several vegetables and the occasional meat. 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."
Pimm's is a British gin-based liqueur with bitter herbs and citrus, also known as a "fruit cup" because it's meant to be mixed in a tall drink with an effervescent mixer and fruit garnish. Snacking aside, the Pimm's Cup has a lot of botanical oomph, and it's especially good outside on a warm day.
What's Available to Buy
If you've tried Pimm's, it was probably Pimm's No. 1, which is the main ingredient in the eponymous Pimm's Cup cocktail. It has a gin base, and most well-stocked liquor stores carry it. A mix of sweet and slightly bitter herbal flavors, Pimm's No. 1 goes well with fruit and mixers like ginger ale, sparkling lemonade, and 7-Up or Sprite.
At one point, there were six different types of Pimm's, each numbered according to the base liquor. Pimm's No. 6 (made with vodka) and No. 3 (also known as Winter Pimm's, made with brandy) are still around in the UK, but they don't make the rest anymore.
Most people don't keep Pimm's in the liquor cabinet because it's basically a one-trick pony. But if the urge for a Pimm's strikes you, it is ridiculously easy to make a DIY version with common ingredients that you probably already have at home.
All you really need is gin, sweet vermouth, and an orange, though dried bitter orange peel is a nice addition. If you are the rare Pimm's connoisseur who drinks it on the rocks, you will notice that the homemade version isn't quite as herbaceous. But for mixing, this homemade substitute will make a killer Not-Pimm's Cup.
It's fun to play with the flavor profile, too. Add a little sherry to give it a sweeter touch or a little Campari to accentuate the bitterness. Add a little simple syrup and fresh herbs to play up the sweet, summery flavor, or increase the amount of gin to up the alcohol content and juniper intensity.
You will, of course, have to make a Pimm's Cup. But there are a few other variations to try, like the Rookie highball, which pairs Pimm's with ginger ale and whiskey. The Pimmlet is like Gimlet meets Pimm's Cup but it leaves out the bubbles and accentuates the gin with fresh mint and lime.
1 navel orange
1 teaspoon dried bitter orange peel (optional)
3/4 cup London dry gin
1 cup sweet vermouth
Wash and slice the navel orange and place it in a sealable glass jar. Do not remove peel. Add bitter orange peel, then pour in gin and vermouth. Seal and shake jar, then steep at room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 72 hours.
Strain orange out with a sieve and then filter through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a glass bottle or jar. Store sealed at room temperature.
Fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth or coffee filter
Dry bitter orange peel is cheap and many homebrew supply and natural foods stores carry it. While it does make the homemade concoction more closely match a commercial Pimm's, it can easily be left out for the sake of convenience.
If you plan to use all of your DIY Pimm's within a week or two, you can simply strain it through a fine-mesh sieve without the additional filtering, since any citrus debris won't be steeping long enough to noticeably affect the flavor. Cheesecloth-filtered homemade Pimm's will keep at room temperature for up to a year.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 9 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 3g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|