Pimm’s Recipe (Pimm’s Cup)

The quintessentially British cocktail, often served at Wimbledon. You've not experienced British cocktail culture until you've tried it.
Rows of wine glasses with bright coloured straws, containing the Pimm's recipe

Method

Build

Glass

Collins

Category

Fruit Cup / Liqueur

What is Pimm’s?

The Pimm’s Cup recipe is a classic cocktail made from Pimm’s No.1.

Ask for “Pimm’s, please” at the bar and there are actually three options which you might be served.

Firstly, the name “Pimm’s” is short for Pimm’s No. 1, an English fruit-based liqueur.

You could drink this neat, but more often you’ll see Pimm’s No. 1 mixed with lemon juice, ginger ale, and fruit in the Pimm’s Cup recipe.

Lastly, a simpler variation of this cocktail is made with lemonade and chopped fruit.

Often associated with English summers and the Wimbledon tennis competition, it’s also known simply as “Pimm’s”.

Confused yet?

Don’t worry – we’re here to explain the difference between Pimm’s and a Pimm’s Cup.

We’ve also detailed the original Pimm’s Cup recipe, our tips for the best Pimm’s with lemonade and other amazing ingredients to mix with Pimm’s.

Jump to the classic Pimm’s recipe

Take me to the alcohol-free Pimm’s recipe

What is Pimm’s No.1?

Pimm’s is a gin-based fruit cup – an English drink made from a mixture of fruits, liqueur, and a base spirit.

Also known as a summer cup, bartenders designer these to go in long cocktails with a mixer like tonic or lemonade.

Pimm’s No. 1 was invented by James Pimm in the 1840s to help with digestion.

There were originally six variations of Pimm’s, each using a different spirit as a base.

Is Pimm’s a vermouth?

Pimm’s No. 1 is a different type of liquid to vermouth, which is a fortified wine.

However, Pimm’s is like vermouth as they are both sweet tasting and made with herbs and other botanical ingredients.

What is a Pimm’s made of?

When you order Pimm’s at the bar, you’re likely expecting a tall cocktail filled with fruit and lemonade.

However, this is a variation on the older Pimm’s Cup recipe made from Pimm’s No.1.

Given that the modern serving of Pimm’s with lemonade is well-known it’s unlikely that you’ll be served Pimm’s No. 1 neat.

However, if you want to try the original Pimm’s cup recipe you might need to make that clear to the bar team. Or make it at home, of course.

Whilst the original Pimm’s Cup recipe is made with a variety of ingredients, including ginger ale, the modern serve is a mix of Pimm’s No.1, lemonade, fruit, and some mint.

If you’re making Pimm’s at home, we’ve included an easy guide to the Pimm’s to lemonade ratio for you.

 

Is the Pimm’s recipe a cocktail?

The Pimm's recipe in a rocks glass filled with ice, with strawberries in the background

Yes, absolutely.

A cocktail is defined as an alcoholic spirit mixed with at least one ingredient, so even the most basic Pimm’s recipe counts.

Pimm’s is as a built cocktail, as the bartender builds the drink by adding ingredients to a tall collins glass.

Who invented Pimm’s?

Pimm’s No.1 is the most well-known brand of bottled fruit cup.

Whilst there are many other types, Pimm’s has become synonymous with the style of drink.

Restaurant owner James Pimm created the gin-based liqueur Pimm’s No. 1 all the way back in 1840.

Pimm ran many successful oyster restaurants and invented the drink to accompany shellfish dishes.

Since then, the drink has become synonymous with the event and the great British summer.

What does Pimm’s taste like?

Pimm’s is fruity and spicy, with bitter notes from the inclusion of gin and other botanical ingredients.

Sipping Pimm’s No. 1 neat, you’ll find it has an herbal, bitter flavour – which makes sense as it was originally invented as an aid to digestion.

Adding a mixer like ginger ale or lemonade balances the drink perfectly.

Once you’ve added your mixer you might want to add a squeeze of lemon or dash of bitters to ensure the mix isn’t overly sweet.

When to drink Pimm’s

Pimm’s is traditionally drank in summer, which in Britain comes one or two days a year.

For us, you can’t beat sipping a Pimm’s and lemonade whilst huddling under an umbrella from a patch of rain. Simply delightful!

Pimm’s is now most famously associated with the Wimbledon tennis championship, where the first Pimm’s bar appeared in 1971.

Can Pimm’s be drunk neat?

Well, you can if you really want to.

Whilst there are no laws stopping you from drinking Pimm’s No.1 on it’s own, we would avoid doing this!

As a liqueur it’s designed to be mixed into a long cocktail, with sweeter flavours like lemonade to balance it.

Are Pimm’s and Aperol similar?

Sort of.

Both famous British summer serves, Pimm’s No. 1 and Aperol do both share a characteristic bitterness.

Both are liqueurs made from botanical ingredients, often mixed with other ingredients to balance out flavour.

For example, the Aperol Spritz recipe uses soda to reduce the bitterness of the base liquid.

Though they both use botanical ingredients, Aperol is classed as an aperitif, whilst Pimm’s was invented as a digestif.

Is Pimm’s gluten free?

Yes, Pimm’s No. 1 is gluten free, making the Pimm’s Cup the perfect recipe to serve for gluten free guests.

What are Pimm’s Cups?

The Pimm’s Cup is a classic cocktail recipe, which was invented by James Pimm.

Originally marketed as a health tonic, it quickly became so popular that Pimm began bottling versions of his Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur.

The Pimm’s cup recipe is often simplified to a mix of Pimm’s and lemonade.

However, for a closer match to the original we’re using ginger ale and lemon juice.

How to make the Pimm’s Recipe

To make a single serving of Pimm’s Cup use our recipe.

If you’re looking for Pimm’s for a larger number of guests, check out our guide to making Pimm’s in a jug below.

Ingredients

50ml Pimm’s No 1. or other fruit cup liqueur

60ml Lemonade

80ml Ginger Ale

1 Orange slice

1 Cucumber slice

1 lemon wedge

3 strawberries

Handful of mint

Method

Add the Pimm’s to a collins glass with cubed ice.

Pour in your fruit and top with lemonade and ginger ale.

Stir gently and serve with a garnish of mint.

Garnish

Mint Sprig

Expert Tip: Why does Pimm’s Froth?

Foaming in Pimm’s is often caused by the carbon dioxide contained in lemonade.

Once the exposed to the fresh air, some of the CO2 which has dissolved under pressure looks for a place to go, and bubbles up.

As the Pimm’s Cup recipe is made in a tall collins glass, there is no way for the foam to go but up!

There’s nothing worse than pouring a Pimm’s only to have the drink foam up and spill.

Thankfully there’s an easy fix to stop your Pimm’s frothing – pour slowly!

To avoid foam in your Pimm’s, pour your lemonade and/or ginger ale in slowly, pausing to allow the bubbles to settle.

This is like how you “wet” a glass of Champagne by pouring in a small amount and letting it settle.

 

Which lemonade to use in Pimm’s?

For the authentic Pimm’s experience, use clear lemonade over cloudy lemonade.

A clear lemonade like Schweppes is perfectly acceptable, especially if you’re making a large pitcher of Pimm’s.

We’ve also experimented with cloudy lemonade and whilst the taste is great, you lose that crisp and clear Pimm’s look.

Options for Pimm’s without Lemonade

We often get asked for options for Pimm’s without lemonade as it can be too sweet for some.

Luckily there are a range of options to try, so test them out until you find your favourite.

Pimm’s with ginger ale

Try the Pimm’s Cup recipe but replace lemonade for freshly squeeze lemon juice.

Pimm’s with coke

The sweeter, sugar taste of cola goes well with Pimm’s. Mix with fresh orange and mint and you’re onto a winner.

Pimm’s with orange juice

Pimm’s is after all a bitter cocktail ingredient and fresh orange juice is a great ingredient to balance it with.

Mix 50ml Pimm’s No. 1 in a collins glass with 5ml sugar syrup. Add ice, top with fresh orange juice, and stir. Finally drop in a dash of grenadine.

Pimm’s with Tonic Water

In a collins glass, add ice and 50ml of Pimm’s No. 1. Squeeze in 15ml lemon juice and add 10ml sugar syrup. Top with tonic water. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Pimm’s with Soda Water

In a tall glass, first add 50ml Pimm’s No. 1. Add 15ml lemon juice, and three orange slices. Top with soda water. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Pimm’s with Champagne

Finding your classic Pimm’s a little too weak? Take the tip from Salvatore Calabrese, inventor of the Breakfast Martini, and turbocharge it by topping with a dash of fizz.

 

Pimm’s Alternatives: What to use instead of Pimm’s?

Though Pimm’s is by far the most famous fruit cup, you are spoilt for choice for options if you want to try something different.

Here are the best Pimm’s alternatives ranked!

Sipsmith London Cup

This fruit cup is made from Sipsmith gin, with infusions of Earl Grey tea, lemon, and cucumber.

It has a lovely aroma with lots of juniper and citrus. One for the gin lover.

Bloom Strawberry Cup

Perfect if you prefer your Pimm’s heavy on the Strawberry.

Tart berry flavours which work so well when mixed with lemonade.

Plymouth Fruit Cup

This is stronger than some of the others at 30% ABV, designed to mimic the original strength of Pimm’s No. 1.

Vermouth, aromatic bitters and citrus extract create a wonderfully zesty experience, with a herbal, rooty finish.

Oxford Originals Summer Cup

Very sweet, and at 15% ABV it’s good for those looking for a lower alcohol Pimm’s alternative.

Pitchers (Sainsburys)

We’d say this is one of the closest in taste to Pimm’s as you’ll get.

Coming in a 1 litre bottle it’s also perfect for mixing up into a large Pimm’s jug, hence the name.

Austin’s Summer Punch (Aldi)

A perfectly acceptable alternative with a lovely velvety finish.

Summer Cup (Tesco)

Lovely delicate spices on the nose, as with the real deal. It’s full of citrus, and aromatic botanicals.

The Great Summer Cup (Asda)

Don’t let the packaging put you off, this Pimm’s alternative is actually pretty good.

It’s quite sweet, and heavy on the strawberries, so works well if you like Pimm’s and lemonade.

Can you make Pimm’s without alcohol?

For those looking for an alcohol-free cocktail, there are easy ways of replicating the unique taste of Pimm’s, without alcohol.

Most of these involve balsamic vinegar.

Before you throw your device out the window, hear us out!

The bitter taste of vinegar is actually a good match for Pimm’s once you pair it with the other ingredients from the Pimm’s cup recipe.

However, we prefer adding a dash of tea to soften the flavour.

Alcohol-free Pimm’s recipe

50ml Alcohol Free Pimm’s Mix (25ml black tea, 25ml balsamic vinegar)

100ml Lemonade

Orange

Strawberries

Mint

Brew the tea and let it cool. Then mix with balsamic vinegar at 50:50 ratio.

In a tall collins glass, add your alcohol-free mix with ice.

Add your chopped fruit, then top with lemonade.

Duplicate the quantities per person as needed.

 

How much Pimm’s for 100 guests?

Rows of wine glasses with bright coloured straws, containing the Pimm's recipe

As cocktail experts, we’re often asked for the perfect amount of Pimm’s to prepare for a summer party.

Our answer is always: it depends!

A number of variables like weather, food options, and even guest preferences will impact the number of drinks you’ll need.

However, as a rough guide, aim for around two drinks per hour.

Take the classic Pimm’s Cup recipe and calculate as follows:

50ml Pimm’s x 100 guests x 2 = 10,000ml Pimm’s

For this you’d need fifteen 70cl bottles of Pimm’s.

Use the same method for the other ingredients and there you are!

This is a rough guide of course, and it’s always better to buy a little extra than needed!

 

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