Enjoying Summer, English-Style

It's the end of May which means the weather should be sunny and warm. Just the right weather for everybody to enjoy some refreshing cocktails. But as I sit here barbecuing some ribs, I look at the dark clouds above me and hope it doesn't rain. Since we might be in for an English summer around here, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate it with a classic English cocktail. The Pimm's Cup.

A Tale Of Two Cups

The Pimm's Cup is a traditional fruit cup, which means it's a mixture of a gin based liquor, fruits and a mixer. Fruit cups are quite old-school and date back to Victorian times. Usually they are easy to prepare, but very tasty and refreshing nevertheless. If you want to read more about the history of fruit cups, Difford's Guide has a nice article about fruit cups and Pimm's in particular.

As I read about the history of the fruit cup I wondered if there were other recipes to try besides the Pimm version. But it is hard to find recipes without Pimm's, let alone an original recipe from the 19th century. So without access to a historic cocktail library, I decided to compare the recipes by Simon Difford and see wherein the difference lies.

I'm making my fruit cups with ginger ale, as I lack any English lemonade. I believe it's also easier to get your hands on a good ginger ale than a particular brand of lemonade from England. But if you have any suggestions what lemonade should be used, please let me know in the comments.

####Pimm's Cup * 60ml Pimm's No. 1 * Ginger Ale * 1 Slice of Lemon * 1 Slice of Orange * 1 Slice of Cucumber * 1 Strawberry (hulled and halved) * Mint

Pour the Pimm's into a high-ball glass filled halfway with ice. Add the lemon, orange, cucumber and strawberry, then add more ice. Top up with ginger ale, stir carefully and garnish with the mint. Serve with a straw.

Recipe adapted from Difford's Guide

A very refreshing cocktail with some fruity aromas. This cocktail has a unique taste and looks quite stunning with all the fresh fruit in the glass. A drink that shouts summer and is best enjoyed while lazily enjoying the weather and not doing anything. The fruit in this cocktail provides subtle flavors which I enjoy greatly. Make the extra effort to hull the strawberry since otherwise you will miss some flavor.

The great thing about this drink is that you can't mess it up. As long as you use fresh fruit and Pimm's No. 1 you will be fine. But let's see how the other recipe holds up.

####Fruit Cup

Shake the first four ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled high-ball glass. Add the lemon, orange and strawberry, then top with ginger ale and cola. Lightly stir and garnish with the mint. Serve with a straw.

Recipe adapted from Difford's Guide

This cocktail is an interesting contrast to the Pimm's Cup. As you can see the color is much darker. It's sweeter due to the vermouth and Cointreau; which are also the dominant flavors. A more herbal cocktail that's much bolder in flavor. Because it's sweeter and has a more vermouth-y taste the cocktail is a bit less refreshing.

How Do They Compare?

Obviously it all comes down to personal taste. If I had to find an analogy I would say that the Pimm's Cup is a Martini while the Fruit Cup is a Manhattan. With a bit more time on my hands I would try to reduce the amount of Cointreau and see how that holds up. In my opinion a bit less sweetness and a bit more tartness will make the fruit cup much better.

In conclusion I must say that I enjoy those summer cocktails. They are the perfect refreshment on a hot summer day while lounging around. Even if it rains they take your mind off of it and make you feel like there is nothing wrong with the world.

Although I have to say drinking them is much easier than preparing them, since slicing all that fruit can become cumbersome. But this is easily averted by preparing the base mixture beforehand in a large jug or pitcher and then just topping it up with some ginger ale whenever you need a new drink.

If you never had a Pimm's Cup I'd say it's worth seeking out a bottle of Pimm's and trying it yourself. Although I'm a bit opposed to just buying a specific ingredient just for one cocktail, I find it well worth in this case. For next week I hope I can continue with my mead project. Until then you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe.

Title image via pixabay.

Pete Barmeister

Pete is a German hobby mixologist always trying to find new ways to mess around with alcohol. When not researching articles he's always on the lookout for new things to drink.