The perfect summer cocktail – 2012 edition

We’ve been drinking Gin Fizzes since last summer, but as our family vacation approached in July I felt some self-induced pressure to find a new signature cocktail.  My husband was perfectly happy with the Gin Fizz and saw no need to switch to anything else, but I needed a little adventure in my life!

I had some criteria as I searched mixology web sites:

  • Not too sweet
  • Not too acidic
  • Ingredients can’t be too exotic and difficult to find
  • Easy to make

That ruled out Mai Tais, Margaritas, any drink with Absinthe, and Pousse-Cafe. Then I remembered the Pimm’s Cup.

It was my husband who first introduced me to the Pimm’s Cup in 1987 at the Cliff Dive Bar in the Sheraton Maui. (Emphasis on “cliff dive”, not “dive bar”.) I’d never heard of Pimm’s No. 1 but I loved its slight bitterness, and the cocktail was a perfect match for the super crunchy Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips that were served during happy hour.

And I realized the added bonus that Pimm’s No. 1 is a British liquor and on vacation we would be watching the Olympics opening ceremonies.  This year we could have a theme cocktail!

Pimm’s No. 1 has about 1/2 the ABV (alcohol by volume) of other liquors used in mixed drinks, making the Pimm’s Cup a lighter cocktail than, say, a Gin & Tonic.  I find this makes it a much more refreshing beverage in hot weather.

It seems that everybody makes a Pimm’s Cup a little bit differently.  It can be mixed with ginger ale (or ginger beer*), lemon lime soda, or lemonade.  There is even some discrepancy about garnishing the cocktail with a spear of cucumber, wedge of lime, slice of lemon, or event mint leaves, but I feel cucumber is the classic garnish.

When I announced that we would have a new cocktail this summer, my husband was a little skeptical and reluctant to give up his Gin Fizz, but he gamely went shopping and returned with some very good quality ginger beer and a cucumber. However, the Pimm’s Cup with ginger beer was a little too sweet for my taste, so I substituted club soda.  I also found that a cucumber spear really didn’t impart any cucumber flavor, but cucumber peel infused the cocktail quite nicely.

This cocktail recipe is the way I like them – imprecise. Make one, taste it, and if it’s too sweet hand it to your husband.  If the Pimm’s flavor is too strong, add a little more club soda.  If not strong enough, add more Pimm’s.

Pimm’s Cup My Way

Pimm’s No. 1
Club soda (or ginger beer)
Ice cubes

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes.  With a vegetable peeler shave a long slice of cucumber peel and nestle it in the ice.  Pour in a couple of fingers of Pimm’s No. 1, then fill the rest of the class with club soda. If you prefer a sweet drink, use ginger beer.


*Ginger ale versus ginger beer, what’s the difference?  Ginger beer is non-alcoholic, but much more flavorful than the Canada Dry Ginger Ale we’re usually served on airplanes.  It should have a more pronounced ginger flavor and will typically be less fizzy.

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1 Response to The perfect summer cocktail – 2012 edition

  1. kristina says:

    “Too sweet? Hand it to your husband.” LOVE IT!

    Now must go shopping. :)

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