English summers and a glass of Pimm's and lemonade go hand in hand. This light, yet alcoholic drink is synonymous with many midyear events in Britain. Sold at all festivals, concerts, and even sporting events like Wimbledon, this refreshing cocktail is also part of weddings, social gatherings, and family celebrations.
Originally created and sold in an oyster bar in London in the mid-1850s as a digestif made out of gin, herbs, and liqueurs, the beverage is now a British staple found everywhere in the country. Although there are many recipes and variations on the drink, this is, in essence, a refreshing gin-based carbonated fruity drink (or fruit cup as they are known in England) that can take on other flavors from fruits (apples, strawberries, oranges, cucumbers, or lemons) and can be garnished with different herbs like mint or flowers like borage. Summery, citrusy, and sweet, this is the perfect quick cocktail to enjoy on a hot day. A truly traditional English Pimm's does not contain any additional alcohol of any kind—the recipe with added spirits like vodka is an American version.
Our recipe makes four servings, but scale it down if you need just a single refreshing glass of Pimm's and lemonade.
- Ice (to fill the jug)
- 200 milliliters Pimm's No. 1
- 600 milliliters carbonated lemonade (chilled)
- 1 sprig mint leaves
- 1 small cucumber (sliced, peel on)
- 1 medium orange (sliced, peel on)
- 1/2 cup strawberries (washed, hulled, and halved)
Gather the ingredients.
Fill a glass jug with ice.
Mix the Pimm's with the chilled lemonade in the jug with ice. For a single serving, go with one part of Pimm's per three parts of lemonade.
Lightly crush the mint in your hand to release the scent and oils, and add it to the Pimms along with the cucumber slices, orange slices, and strawberry quarters. The rule of thumb is to add 2 slices of cucumber to one of orange and strawberry, but add as much or as little as you'd like to achieve the fruity flavor of your liking.
Stir with a long-handled spoon and serve in tall glasses with ice.
Making the Perfect Pimm's
Here are a few suggestions for the perfect pitcher of Pimm's:
- Use a high-quality fizzy lemonade. Lemonades that are too acidic can spoil the flavor.
- Do not replace the Pimm's with other spirits branded as Fruit Cups. They bring their own flavors to the party but not that of a classic Pimm's.
- Keep the proportions to one part of Pimm's, three parts of lemonade, as too much Pimm's can be overwhelming, and too much lemonade will water down the Pimm's flavor.
- Stick to cucumber, orange, and mint if you want a classic Pimms. Strawberries are a pretty addition. Avoid using apple slices because they will turn mushy very quickly. Some Pimm's aficionados recommend using only the cucumber peel, which adds extra flavor and will stay firmer than the slices.
- Use borage if you have it in your garden. It will make a lovely alternative to mint and can be equally refreshing.
How Strong Is the Classic Pimm's?
Fruity and refreshing, Pimm's and lemonade has an average ABV of 5 percent, the same amount of alcohol as some beers. The strength of a Pimm's and lemonade depends on the recipe: Some people like more Pimm's and less lemonade, and others like it the other way around. In either case, as an alcoholic beverage, even if light, it should be consumed with caution. Pimm's on its own has an ABV of 25 percent.
Can I Drink Pimm's on Its Own?
Even if most people mix it with fizzy lemonade or ginger ale, some like it on the rocks. Although not common, some enthusiasts swear by its citrus-and-spice taste and perfect with a few ice cubes.