Pimm's Cup - Drink Like You're at Wimbledon!

Pimm’s Cup – Drink Like You’re at Wimbledon!

July 5, 2013

One of the things I most enjoy when doing a Classic for Friday Cocktails is discovering the history behind a well known drink. This is certainly one of those times and in this instance history is wrapped up with a grand tradition…what more could you ask for?

Although Wimbledon started play on Monday, June 24 I knew that I wanted to feature the Pimm’s Cup during the final round of matches. This coming weekend should include some of the most exciting tennis there is…and it seemed that it would be the perfect opportunity to quaff this thoroughly Wimbledon cocktail.

The Pimm’s Cup’s primary ingredient, Pimm’s Gin No. 1, originated at an oyster bar in London’s financial district in the 1800’s. Bartender James Pimm blended the original concoction of gin, quinine (the ingredient in tonic water that gives it a bitter taste) with a variety of herbs to make his Pimm’s No. 1 Cup tonic. Originally served as a digestive for his clients, the original recipe remains a secret held by only a handful of people. I wish I had a hint of what is in there; it’s an aroma that is hard to define through scent or taste and everyone queried guessed at a variety of ingredients and few hit on any that were the same. So the mystery remains but the story continues!


The No 1 cup is as popular today as ever; first introduced as an English summer drink, the first Pimm’s Bar opened at the Wimbledon tennis tournament in 1971 and every year, over 80,000 pints of the combination of Pimm’s and lemonade are sold to spectators. Though most closely associated with Wimbledon, it has a long history of appearing at events for the ‘upper class’ including cricket and polo matches, yacht regattas and an annual opera festival. I wonder if they would have been up in arms to see my motley crew sitting around a picnic table in shorts and t-shirts…and not a one of us with our pinky properly extended!

To understand the huge popularity of the Pimm’s Cup, imagine it is to Wimbledon what the Mint Julep is to the Kentucky Derby. Yes, that big.

The version I’ve made includes a recipe for lemonade by combining simple syrup with lemon juice which is then combined with Pimm’s and sparkling soda. In Britain you would most often see a call for the use of 7-up in lieu of the lemonade and soda. I much prefer our ‘Americanized’ Pimm’s if that’s what I must call it; especially since you can sweeten the cocktail as you prefer by upping the simple syrup ante a bit for those with more of a sweet tooth.

Pimm's Cup Cocktail

For me? Well, when I made this yesterday for the 4th of July, I actually made several but only used two for photos…when company arrived we brought the other glasses that I had put lemonade into out to the table in the backyard to finish with the other ingredients and enjoy with our dinner. Let’s just say that despite loving the bite of lemon, discovering that I had forgotten to add the simple syrup to my glass at all was a real eye opener. A little bit of sugar is a very good thing.

I found Pimm’s (no one ever actually calls it by it’s full name of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup) easily at a decent sized liquor store and it is consider a liqueur if you have to hunt for it. As for those garnishes; they have little to do with the overall taste but all of my guests agreed that the abundance of fruit and color just added a certain something that spoke loudly of summer. While some might decry their need…it’s just so damn pretty that it’s a need I sure have!

Get ready for this weekend…get some Pimm’s and soda, make some lemonade and start practicing now. Tennis? Heck no…drinking with the uplifted pinky; remember..we’re at Wimbledon!!

Pimm’s Cup – Drink Like You’re at Wimbledon!
Prep time
Total time
Serves: One cocktail
  • 2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ to 1 oz simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar boiled just until sugar dissolves; cool)
  • 1.5 oz of Pimm's No. 1 Cup
  • Club soda, sparkling soda water or plain seltzer water
  • Garnishes: Cucumber spear or slices, mint, lemon, orange and strawberries
  1. Combine lemon juice and simple syrup to make lemonade (start with 4 to 1 ratio and increase to half of each if sweeter is desired)
  2. Fill a tall glass with ice; add Pimm's and lemonade and top off with soda; stir to mix.
  3. Garnish with cucumbers, citrus and strawberries.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbi October 14, 2013 at 5:48 am

I have had the Pimm’s cup but made with Ginerger Ale…I add the cucumber, orange and lemon slices. What a refreshing summer cocktail! I will have to try it with the simple syrup and lemon next time.


2 Creative Culinary October 14, 2013 at 11:12 am

It seems there are a lot of variations but overall it is exactly as you state…a really refreshing summer cocktail. Enjoy!


3 Holly July 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Why haven’t I made this drink at home? It is a must-make and now it is fresh in my mind, thanks! I’ve enjoyed this drink at horseraces in England and at summer bbq’s in Bermuda. Your photos are gorgeous, wishing I had one of these right now!
Holly Most Recent Post: Peach-Oat Quick Bread for #TwelveLoaves July


4 Creative Culinary July 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Now this is a must make…you, me, Karen and Ansh; all with British connections. Mine being that I know you and Karen. :)


5 Emily July 9, 2013 at 7:38 am

I must say the cucumber garnish is my favourite bit–it soaks in all the flavours of the drink but then retains its own delicate unsweetened crispness that is a balm all its own on a hot day.


6 Creative Culinary July 9, 2013 at 8:55 am

It’s a nice little bonus isn’t it?


7 Adri July 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Pimm’s Cup is a classic alright. And what a gorgeous post. Your photographs are absolutely stunning and utterly tempting.


8 Alex Dumpfree July 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm

WoW, Pimm’s!! Real cool drink so fur.I would always love to drink it.A luxurious drink to hang out with friends & family.


9 Paula July 7, 2013 at 7:47 am

My first Pimm’s was made and served to me by an expat from Britain. It was such a lovely refreshing drink made all the more special by the graciousness of our wonderful hosts at that memorable summer barbecue. I imagine all your guests walk away from your gatherings feeling the same way.
Paula Most Recent Post: Independence Day Patriotic Balloons


10 Creative Culinary July 7, 2013 at 10:45 am

I sure hope so Paula. I get such real pleasure out of taking care of friends by feeding them and giving them new cocktails to try; I can only hope they get the same pleasure from enjoying them!


11 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. July 7, 2013 at 7:25 am

I am loving this! Hope you had a great holiday weekend


12 Ansh | Spiceroots July 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

Forget the Mojitos, I want this on Monday :D before the dinner!
Ansh | Spiceroots Most Recent Post: Watermelon Mojito – Ina Garten Friday


13 Creative Culinary July 7, 2013 at 7:29 am

I will have to prepare one for you…they are SO good!


14 Bam's Kitchen July 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Your delightful Pimm’s cup is a great refreshing summer drink. I remember the very first time I even had a Pimm’s cocktail was with my friend from the UK watching a cricket game here in HK. I love all the fruit hanging off and in your drink, so pretty. Have a super weekend. Take Care, BAM
Bam’s Kitchen Most Recent Post: Sensational Summer Citrus Salmon


15 Creative Culinary July 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thanks so much! I know some might lessen the fruit component but it sure looked pretty and sometimes pretty matters. Have a great weekend yourself!


16 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme July 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Gin has always been my tipple of choice and I’ve always wanted to try a Pimm’s Cup. Now I have a tried and true recipe to use!
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Most Recent Post: Sugar-Free Bread and Butter Pickles


17 Creative Culinary July 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

It’s very refreshing Lana…especially good when you remember to include the sugar. :)


18 Kiran @ KiranTarun.com July 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm

You sure know your cocktails, friend. I need to try Pimm’s. Never had it before!! Have a great weekend :)
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com Most Recent Post: Triple Berry Oat Smoothie


19 Creative Culinary July 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I’m sure learning a lot about a bunch of them that’s for sure…but for most of these Classic drinks it’s like a school research project! :)


20 john@kitchenriffs July 5, 2013 at 9:19 am

The Pimm’s Cup is such a lovely drink! Great for summer – it’s so refreshing. I agree that lemon squash (lemon juice and sugar, mixed with the club soda) is perfect for this drink. 7-up is convenient, but just doesn’t cut it. However, the Sprite brand actually tastes OK in this – yes, I’ve done extensive taste testing! Some people also like to use ginger ale, though I think the taste is a tad funky. Anyway, great post – thanks so much.
john@kitchenriffs Most Recent Post: The Gin Rickey Cocktail


21 Creative Culinary July 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I’ve heard some love ginger beer too John and a friend says to try Champagne (for me that would mean prosecco); it’s then a Pimm’s Royal Cup. In any derivation I’m sure I would love it; it’s the Pimm’s that counts.


22 Karen Harris July 5, 2013 at 6:11 am

I sincerely love Pimm’s. My favorite memories of it are sitting outside on one of the rare hot days in England having a Pimm’s Royal Cup (Pimm’s with champagne instead of lemonade) with friends while watching our kids play. I’ve never had it with American lemonade, just English lemonade, which is what they call lemon lime soda. It kind of reminds me of a delicious alcoholic iced tea. Yum! I’m feeling parched all of the sudden.
Karen Harris Most Recent Post: This Post Brought to You By the Word “No!”: Cheesy Bacon and Green Onion Bread


23 Creative Culinary July 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I was correct to assume you would most certainly know this drink! I’ve gotten all sorts of suggestions…suppose I will have to test them huh? Wanna help?


24 Ansh | Spiceroots July 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

Oh I would help too when you test them. Don’t you girls forget about me :D
Ansh | Spiceroots Most Recent Post: Watermelon Mojito – Ina Garten Friday


25 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef July 5, 2013 at 5:38 am

I lol’d at the lack of sugar syrup. That’s when one eye nearly shuts and you look like the ugliest person in the world.

Gorgeous photos and a drink I could enjoy most any time.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef Most Recent Post: Best Panna Cotta Recipe Ever & Happy 4th of July


26 Creative Culinary July 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I knew as soon as I sipped it; talk about pucker! I remedied it quick and we were back on track. Whew huh?

Thanks for the sweet compliment; if you only knew what it takes. I either get to my kids to take shots indoors or desperate to not make that trip I try to do them on the back porch; under a trellis that shines a fabulous pattern if the sun is out. I’m jerryrigging something soon; always finding someone to hold up a big sun blocker for me is not a given!


27 Dannielle July 5, 2013 at 5:26 am

When we make pimms, we often soak the pimms overnight with cucumber, strawberries, oranges and mint, and then add extra fruit to the cocktails when mixed with lemonade the next day. The fruit really adds to it!
Dannielle Most Recent Post: Adventures In :: New Zealand #18 – Traveling on the North Island


28 Creative Culinary July 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Wow…that sounds good too. I did put a lot of fruit in this sucker; I would need to start my own fruit stand if I were going to do this regularly! :)


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