Let me get this straight: I am not watching the Royal Wedding. Other than the small part of me that feels bad for Kate having to put up with worldwide media attention during her wedding when being a bride is an already nightmarishly stressful thing, I don’t have an opinion about any of it.
However, I realized the other day, when talking to a friend about the wedding watching party he’s throwing, that I apparently *do* have an opinion about what the proper drink for such a party would be, and therefore think I ought to share it here. That drink is a Pimm’s Cup. It’s alcoholic enough to be worthy of the occasion without being *so* alcoholic that one is stuck spending the next 18 hours wondering why the hell one thought it would be a good idea to begin drinking hours before anyone should ever consider getting out of bed. Plus it’s as English as any drink could be.
Pimm’s is a flipping glorious liqueur-type thing known as a fruit cup - essentially a base of alcohol that gets tarted up with the addition of fruits - that gets mixed with fruit or lemonade or ginger ale or whatever else to have something lovely and lightly alcoholic to enjoy while standing around outside during the heat of the summer. Pimm’s No. 1, the only Pimm’s anyone Stateside is going to have any luck getting their grubby hands on,* is gin-based (as any good English drink should be) and tastes like a melange of citrus and cherry and cucumber and spice (largely clove, allspice and coriander) and a few hints of juniper. I can’t say that it’s bitter and I can’t say it’s particularly sweet or dry or anything else – I’ll stick with “fruity” and maybe, *maybe* bittersweet. Pimm’s is fairly syrupy in texture, and can taste a little thick on its own. To get a sense of the potential of Pimm’s, have a bit of Pimm’s and soda: that will let you taste the flavor without dealing with the stickiness it has on its own. After that, go straight to the Pimm’s Cup.
As far as I can tell, there are several different recipes for a “proper” or “authentic” Pimm’s Cup. Here are a couple of versions:
Pour over ice:
2 oz Pimm’s
Top with bitter lemon soda, lemonade, 7up or ginger ale
Garnish with lemon and cucumber
For extra funsies:
1 slice orange
1 slice lemon
1 small slice cucumber
2-3 mint leaves
2 oz Pimm’s
Shake, pour over ice
Top with lemonade, lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
There’s a variation I tripped across called a Royal Pimm’s, which is 2 oz of Pimm’s poured into a champagne flute and topped with sparkling wine. Should you feel moved to toast the couple from the comfort of your couch and your pajamas, that might be the most appropriate way to go about it.
People, Pimm’s is yummy, and it’s become much easier to find over the past few years. Try some sometime, whether you’re planning on watching the royal nuptials or not. Beware the added alcohol, though: a Pimm’s Cup is not a hugely alcoholic drink, meaning it’ll be easier to work on than a flute or two of Pimmed-up sparkling wine would be. That is, if you have to worry about going to work after the wedding. If you don’t, then have at having whatever you want.
Me, I’ll be asleep.
Fun terminology learnings: this is a long drink. A “long drink” is any sort of cocktail that is comprised of alcohol and mixers and designed to be consumed in relatively large volumes. A “short drink” would be the opposite – a drink that is pretty much entirely made out of alcohol, designed to be sipped in small volumes. Think of the difference between a Gin and Tonic and a Manhattan: volume-wise, if you drank the same volume of liquid in a Manhattan that you’d normally drink in a Gin and Tonic, you’d be on the floor. Or, well, I would be anyway.
*There were, in the past, Pimm’s Nos. 1-6, all based on different alcohols. No. 1 is gin-based, as I’ve said already. No. 3 is brandy-based and seasonally available in a few places (probably all in the UK, I’m guessing). No. 6 is vodka-based and still made in small batches.
The rest have been discontinued. I’m giving you this info for the sake of completion:
- No. 2 was Scotch whisky-based
- No. 4 was rum-based**
- No. 5 was rye whiskey-based***
**cue a series of “why’s the rum gone?” quotes
***yes, I got the whisky/whiskey spellings correct. Yes, there are two spellings: Scotch whisky never uses the ‘e’, but everything else does. There are people out there who will get pissed at an almighty level should one get the “e” wrong (especially on the Scotch side of things), so just file this bit of spelling wonkery in there with every other bit of spelling wonkery in the English language and go on with your life.