The social drinker
Many fine drinks have an image problem and are unjustly ignored as a result. Cider is labelled as fuel for yobbos; sherry, a tipple for old ladies with alcoholic tendencies, while Pimm’s is a drink for Hooray Henrys.
As the sun makes an occasional appearance, it is time to make the case for Pimm’s No 1 Cup as an ideal summer long-drink that manages to be both festive and refreshing, while somehow packing a punch that is out of all proportion to its low-alcohol content.
My father always seemed to have a half bottle of Pimm’s with its beautiful, old-fashioned label and curious red tint, rotting away next to the Creme de Menthe in his drinks cabinet — but I never saw him drink it. I only developed a taste during a happy period studying in Cambridge, where Pimm’s forms the inevitable accompaniment to almost every event hosted by the college between April and June.
Pimm’s has probably been popular with students for two centuries because it is easy to make. You take a jug and pour in the Pimm’s (which is made up of gin and spices) together with three or four times as much lemonade or ginger ale, and chopped garnishes such as apples, cucumber, oranges, lemons, strawberry and mint, as well as ice. The taste is fruity, like tea with a bit of sugar, gin and cucumber — but the sum is much tastier than the parts.
When Pimm’s comes out of a bottle, it is 25pc alcohol by volume, but it is only around 5pc when served, or the same as beer. As one tends not to drink more than a glass or two, it makes this an ideal drink to serve those who want to stay sober.
Pimms No 1 Cup is available from most off-licences and costs around €19 a bottle