How to Make the Traditional Pimm's Cup Cocktail | Wine Enthusiast
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Pimms Cup Cocktail

How to Make the Traditional Pimm’s Cup Cocktail

Many sporting events have a signature cocktail. For instance, the Kentucky Derby has its mint julep. The Preakness has the Black-Eyed Susan cocktail. If you’re lucky enough to snags seats for Wimbledon, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself sipping a few glasses of the enticing British potion known as a Pimm’s Cup.

But even if you aren’t a tennis fan, or will be watching the tournament on the telly, this slightly spicy and refreshingly tangy tipple is worth discovering this summer. Here’s a look at everything to know about this cocktail and how to make the Pimm’s Cup right.

What Is a Pimm’s Cup Cocktail?

It’s essentially an “alcoholic fruit cup.” The cocktail is made with Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liqueur infused with botanicals and mixed with English lemonade (clear and carbonated) or lemon-lime soda.

The History of the Pimm’s Cup Cocktail

The Pimm’s Cup’s origins date back to 1823, when London oyster bar owner James Pimm started offering guests a gin-based beverage containing quinine and a secret blend of spices. The elixir was dubbed as a digestion aid, and served to patrons in small tankards known as “No. 1 Cups.”

The drink’s popularity quickly grew, and by the end of the 19th century it was ubiquitous all over the United Kingdom. In fact, he started bottling and selling his concoction in 1851. Later, the first Pimm’s bar opened at the 1971 Wimbledon tournament, and today over 80,000 pints of Pimm’s and lemonade are sold there to spectators each year. (The other de rigueur beverage at the renowned tennis championships, by the way, is Champagne. Not too shabby either.)

However, some accounts trace the cocktail’s roots back to Louisiana. In the 1950s a recipe for this cocktail made it to the “Napoleon House in New Orleans and it quickly became the signature drink of that venerable bar as well—and a staple of bar crawling as you walk through the French Quarter,” writes Andrew and Briana in Northern Hospitality with The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club.

But most agree the drink’s origins go back to England.

What Fruit Is in a Pimm’s Cup?

Its sprightly, striking garnish is an integral part of a well-made Pimm’s Cup. Purists wouldn’t dare use anything except mint, cucumber, strawberries and apples—in a word, only ingredients that are available in Britain.

The classic recipe calls for one-part Pimm’s to two parts lemonade—the Brits’ version is clear and carbonated, and if you can’t find it, you can substitute lemon lime soda.

Modern variations endlessly tinker with the classic recipe, replacing the lemonade with ginger beer or tonic, and departing from the classic topper to decorate the glass with orange twists, pineapple slices or passion fruit. Any way it’s mixed, the fizzy, tea-hued sip is served with ice in a tall glass and artfully garnished.

Pimm’s Cup Recipe


2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
4 ounces English lemonade or lemon-lime soda
Mint sprig, cucumber slice, strawberry slice and apple slice, for garnish


Add ice to a chilled tall glass. Add the Pimm’s and lemonade or lemon lime soda. Stir gently, and garnish with the mint sprig, cucumber slice, strawberry slice and apple slice


What is Pimm’s No. 1? 

It’s a gin-based liqueur infused with a secret recipe of fruits and botanicals.  

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