If you're looking for a deliciously refreshing lower-alcohol sipper to get you through summer (especially for all of those long hours spent whiling away on various patios or perhaps at a fancy garden or roof deck party), you can never go wrong with a Pimm's Cup. Fantastically popular in England (especially in southern England), the original gin-based Pimm's No. 1 Cup was introduced in the 1830s with a variety of herbs and botanicals adding to its spicy, fruity allure.
Over the years, five more Pimm's Cups were introduced, using other base spirits, but were phased out over time. Today, bartenders across the country have concocted variations on the delightful drink that you can enjoy all summer long.
Last fall, Meauxbar in New Orleans' French Quarter debuted its Pimm's Series to introduce patrons to the popular English drink's history. Now, bar director Christopher Brian takes things into his own hands by introducing his tequila-based Pimm's No. 7. He combines Espolón añejo tequila with grapefruit shrub and muddled seasonal produce and replicates the Pimm's flavor profile with a house recipe of fortified wines and liqueurs including Grand Marnier, Heering Cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth and bitters.
(image: Juliana Argento)
To make a seasonal winter-to-spring drink, assistant general manager Jesse Marino takes an Earl Grey–infused Botanist gin and muddles it with cucumber and mint and adds in Pimm's. The result is a bright and slightly carbonated cocktail that offers herbaceous notes up front and finishes on a light and refreshing note.
Pakpao's riff on the original Pimm's Cup adds a Thai flair to the drink. Using Pimm's as the base, it adds Chartreuse with fresh cucumber, bell pepper and tamarind. The refreshing cocktail pairs well with and helps cut through the heat of some of Pakpao's spicier dishes.
In collaboration with Chicago's CH Distillery, mixology consultant Benjamin Newby, who hails from the U.K. (home of the Pimm's Cup), created a unique gin liqueur that took its inspiration from Pimm's. The result is a low-ABV liqueur that includes Earl Grey tea, coriander, clove and CH's housemade orange curaçao. Newby then took the CH Pimm's and combined it with cucumber and strawberry water, Fruitlab ginger liqueur and fresh lemon juice and bottled it. It can also be served in a Champagne flute with a cucumber spiral and strawberry slice.
Putting a little Texas twist on the classic, bar manager Alana Zanello combines Pimm's with New Amsterdam gin and Giffard Ginger of the Indies liqueur, then adds fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and Angostura bitters. The twist comes with the addition of Texas fave Topo Chico mineral water (that's sourced and bottled in Monterrey, Mexico). That, combined with a fresh mint sprig and a cucumber coin for garnish, adds some nice refreshment on a hot day.
Talk about taking a classic and adding a modern spin to it: Barrel & Ashes program director C. Blaine Adams subbed out the Pimm's for 80-proof KIN white whiskey and combined that with lightly muddled cucumber, lemon and grapefruit juice, orange mint-infused syrup and pre-Prohibition-style Bigallet China-China amer to add sweet vermouthy notes. The cocktail, served over crushed ice in a highball with cucumber slices and fresh mint, can be had on its own or paired with a steak.
The appeal with this Pimm's Cup isn't necessarily what's in it, rather where you get to drink it. The Signature Lounge, which sits on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center that towers over Michigan Avenue in Chicago, offers some of the most spectacular views in the country. This drink, made by lounge manager Delonne Foster, combines Pimm's with Nolet's gin, ginger beer, lemon sour and muddled cucumber and is then garnished with a sprig of rosemary for a beautiful fragrant note as you sip and stare out across the city and Lake Michigan.
Named in honor of executive chef David Werly and paying homage to the World Cup when it was in Brazil, Mandarin Oriental hotel mixologist Michael LaPenna builds the Werly Cup in a mixing glass. He takes fresh strawberry, cucumber and an orange slice and mixes it with Pimm's, lemon juice, simple syrup and ginger ale to create a thirst-quenching drink you can have at a sporting event or simply out by the pool.
Chef and owner Rick Di Virgilio got inspired to create the Pimm's Cup (Q.V.) after he and his wife, Shiva, visited London in 2010. The drink, served in a Collins glass with fresh mint and cucumber, takes muddled cucumber and orange and tops it with Pimm's, orange curaçao, lime juice and ginger beer.
At James Beard Award–winning chef Tory Miller's pan-Asian spot Sujeo in Madison, Wis., bar manager Domi Robert created the Buddha's Cup, with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, which pairs nicely with the cuisine. The drink also features Pimm's, fresh cucumber, lemon and lime juice and a ginger honey shrub before topping it with soda water to add some sparkle.
Taking his love of sipping Pimm's with tonic and lime on a hot day, Pappas Bros. beverage concept director Matt Tanner created a drink for the restaurant with more depth and character. He combines Pimm's with gin, cucumber, blueberry, lemon, lime and tonic and serves it in a Collins glass. Tanner finds there's a good balance between the cucumber and blueberry with the Pimm's to make a refreshing sipper.
If you're looking for something simple that combines the spiciness of Pimm's with a summer wheat beer, check out the Unfiltered Summer created by Florentine beverage manager Sarah Landry. Inspired by the Pimm's Royal, which tops the drink with Champagne, she instead uses an unfiltered wheat beer to add a bit of effervescence to the Pimm's and lemon juice concoction.
Gracie's bar manager Kristi Dukoff got inspired on a road trip about how a classic cocktail could get an update based on spring in Rhode Island. So she worked with farmer Steve Ramos Organic Produce to get lemon balm, which she then matched up with fresh cucumber, spicy ginger, lemon juice and egg white to add more mouthfeel. She shakes it with Pimm's and serves the drink on the rocks in a tall glass and floats a few dashes of Angostura bitters on top. It's a light cocktail that begs a second order.