The bright and sweet Pimm’s Cup is a consummate summertime libation, the sort of thing best enjoyed in a garden or on a plant-lined patio. This playful variation from bartender H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of Elixir Saloon in San Fransisco, doubles down on the vegetal quality of the drink with the addition of celery, cilantro and cucumber, muddling them into the drink rather than leaving them as a garnish.
The Celery Cup No. 1 relies on the quality and freshness of the produce used. Erhmann advises using a celery piece closest to the heart, where it’s sweetest. Using one of the larger, thicker outer stems can lead to a bitter, spicier drink. He also includes cilantro, which can taste soapy to some palates; there’s no real substitution for it, so if you’re making this for someone who doesn’t care for cilantro it’s best to omit it.
Along with an English cucumber—which is thinner and sweeter than the more traditional slicer cucumbers found at grocery stores—Erhmann uses cucumber vodka from Square One, a distillery in the Bay Area. Though the organic vodka is a solid option—and nearby to Erhmann’s historic bar—there are substitutions available. Prairie Organic, from Minnesota, makes a cucumber vodka and has the benefit of also being organic. Effen Vodka, from Holland, produces a fine cucumber vodka, and Plume and Petal’s cucumber-flavored vodka is only 40-proof, or 20% alcohol, for those who want a lower proof Celery Cup.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Pimm’s Cup variation without the namesake liqueur. However, with only 1/2 ounce of it in the drink, the Pimm’s No. 1 plays more of a support role in the Celery Cup No. 1, leading to a brighter, lighter drink. Most of the sweetness comes from the agave nectar, so those who like their cocktails dry and crisp can cut back on that. Regardless, the drink will be a lovely summer sipper, refreshing and eminently quaffable.
- 1 2-inch piece of celery (use a piece closer to the heart for sweetness)
- 1 handful cilantro (about a quarter cup)
- 1 1-inch piece of English cucumber
- 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 1/2 ounces Square One cucumber vodka
- 3/4 ounce agave nectar
- 1/2 ounce Pimm's No. 1
- Garnish: celery stalk
In a shaker, muddle the cucumber, celery, cilantro and lemon juice to a pulp.
Add the vodka, agave nectar and Pimm’s, fill with ice, and shake until well-chilled
Double-strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with a leafy celery stalk from the heart.