It’s Pimm’s o’clock! Anyone for Pimm’s? No. 1 Fruit Cup is a must drink for English summer, come rain or shine.
Brits love summer
A weird bunch of nations, the British. We have this great enthusiasm for all things summery, outdoorsy and al fresco. We have a penchant for picnics: complete with boiled eggs, pies, baskets and blankets in the past and these days setting up a throwaway barbecue on random bits of green.
The street parties - admittedly the Queen does not often have a jubilee or a birthday, though still twice as often as civilians - bunting and collective bake-offs de rigueur. Parties, weddings or festivals - outside! Or at least under the marquees!
Walking is exclusively a British thing, as the rest of the world considers getting on foot from point A to B a necessity not leisure, and least of all exercise.
Outdoor sports dominate too, cricket above all. Riding. Cycling. Plus there are ice cream vans. Cheese rolling championship. Punting and boating. Jumping off the Magdalen Bridge into Oxford’s river Cherwell. Yes, we’re mad.
Because during all those activities it invariably pisses down.
Summer weather doesn’t love Brits
The British Isles are the land of eternal October, no question about it. Like in an average continental autumn: sometimes it’s quite warm, nudging 20C or over, and sometimes there’s a bit of snow and frost on the ground. But mostly it’s wet and blowy.
So off we go out for the street parties in the drizzle, weddings getting rained upon, marquees blowing away and the picnics disbanding quicker than they banded up upon a sudden shower.
Waterproofs are mandatory for cyclists and riders, students catch pneumonia from exposure when they crawl out of the Cherwell, and so on.
On the other hand, if we waited for nice weather to do things, we’d be cabbages.
So let’s have a Pimm's this summer, rain or shine (the former more likely). The worst that can happen is we’ll have to run inside sheltering the jugs and the strawberries from the rain!
It’s a British thing.
What is Pimm’s?
For those who live in balmier climes (pretty much the rest of the world, bar Ireland), Pimm's is a dark brown gin-based liqueur flavoured with herbs, with alcohol content similar to that of sherry or port.
It’s used to make the quintessentially English summer cocktail, Pimm’s Cup. Invented and first served by (you guessed it!) James Pimm, the owner of an oyster bar in the City of London. I’m not sure how well it went with oysters, but today it’s the traditional drink of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Henley Royal Regatta and the Ascot races.
If it’s not available to buy where you are, I found a decent DIY approximation. But don’t worry - where you live the weather is probably far too good to worry about special summer fruit cups.
How to make my special Pimm’s?
Strawberries, cucumber, a lime and an orange, all sliced, plus copious amounts of fresh mint – that’s a standard for Pimm’s fruit cocktail. But instead of the lemonade that is the usual mixer, I prefer a less sweet, more adult solution: sparkling water and a little sparkling wine.
There are only a couple of things worth your attention about this recipe. One, it really pays off to leave the fruit to macerate in Pimm’s, before adding the water and wine and serving. After all, all that fruit is there to impart its flavour rather than only look pretty.
Two, the proportions: one part Pimm’s to one part fizzy wine to three parts water. Of course, you can swap the water and wine’s amounts around but it will be close to lethal! It’s much nicer to enjoy a refreshing, not so strong cocktail than pass out on a hot afternoon!
More drink recipes
Strawberry fizz drink, with prosecco and frozen strawberries. It’s a little like kir or bellini, a refreshingly summery prosecco cocktail.
Cold brewed iced coffee is really refreshing on a hot day and it miles healthier than any iced concoction bought from Starbucks or Costa.
A half-drink, half-dessert, watermelon granita with no added sugar makes a fantastic dessert when served with a scoop of ice cream.