Pimm's Cup

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day. I loved my long weekend and it kind of sucks to be back at work. I'm actually daydreaming about the amazing food we had this past weekend; of course it'll all eventually be posted. I thought I would slide back into reality slowly and start this week with a blog post about a delicious libation.

When I went to New Orleans last year, I discovered the Pimm's Cup cocktail. It originated in the UK - and is the mascot cocktail of Wimbledon - but it's since become a staple cocktail in the Crescent City and rightly so. It's the most refreshing, delightful drink, which is needed in that humid city. Plus it reflects the cheerful disposition of the people.

I'm heading to London in August for a few days (as the bread of a Greek Island sandwich; that analogy was meant to explain that I'm bookending a trip to Greece with a few days in London) and I plan on sampling as many Pimm's Cups as possible while I'm there so I can compare and decide if it's better here or there.

In the meantime, I'm whipping up batches at home, trying to recreate the fresh, vibrant flavors I loved so much in NOLA.
Ingredients [serves 1]:
3 cucumber slices
6 mint leaves
1½ oz. Pimm's No. 1
3 oz. lemonade
3 oz. lemon-lime soda

pineapple wedge
maraschino cherry
cucumber slice

It's an easy recipe - just shaking and serving, basically - but the fresh ingredients are the true star here.
If you can be bothered, I recommend whipping up some fresh lemonade (concentrated) for this drink. The real, fresh, genuine lemons make all the difference in making this drink super summery and vibrant.

I wanted to give this drink an extra punch so instead of traditional lemonade, I made a quick lemonade concentrate and it ended up giving the drink tons of delicious flavor and brightness. I didn't feel like boiling up some simple syrup and waiting for it to cool so, I just grabbed about a ¼ cup of sugar, the juice of three lemons and shook it in a jar until the sugar dissolved.
I like to start by making the garnish first so that the drink doesn't warm up while I'm fiddling with toothpicks. Stab a piece of pineapple, a cherry, and a cucumber onto a long toothpick and set it on the edge of the glass. Poke some mint into the top of the pineapple; this step is optional but I think it does make the drink look even more summery and festive.
Add mint leaves and cucumber to a bottom of a shaker and muddle until the mint is bruised and the cucumber is completely crushed and has released all of its juices. Pour in the Pimm's and shake it up a bit. Let the Pimm's steep in the minty cucumber for about five minutes. Then, add the lemonade and ice and give the shaker another little shimmy.
Strain the cocktail into a glass with some ice - pictured below are two glasses because I made a double batch - and then top off with some cold lemon-lime soda; Fresca is usually my lemon-lime drink of choice but if you only have Sprite on hand, that works too.
And all that's left to do is to cheers with this festive, fresh drink. It's really refreshing and it's a flavor that's difficult to describe. Pimm's itself is made with spices and citrus so it's definitely meant for summer. It's v. bright, thanks to the fresh lemon and cucumber, it's subtly sweet, and it's got a bit of warmth from the secret Pimm's spices.

There were actually several more liqueurs at some point in history - Pimm's No. 2, Pimm's No. 3, all the way up to No. 6, all meant to aid in digestion and used as an aperitif after dinner - but I think that No. 1 is the only one left. But I'm okay with that because it's delicious.
This past weekend, I actually made a big pitcher of this stuff. If you want to do the same and it's to serve throughout a meal, I say mix it up immediately. If you want to make this for a party, I would leave out the soda and leave your guests to top off on their own.