When I think back to my childhood, the days leading up to the first day of school were always nerve-wracking…in the best of ways. Although I went to school with nearly the same group of people every year, the idea of a new grade, new teachers, new classes, and perhaps a new building, were worrisome enough to give me the jitters. At the same time, however, these were the good kind of jitters. Was I smarter than I was last year? Perhaps. Did anyone else hate the summer reading book as much as I did? Was I any better at football than last season? You can guess the answer was perpetually “NO.” Despite all of that, the first day of school meant a new start, a new year, new challenges, and new fun to be had. I presume that most kids were like this though, and after the first day or two back, everything was back to normal.
Though I don’t yet have kids myself, as an adult I’m surrounded by friends who do, and it seems like the anxiety of preparing for back to school is as stressful for the parents as it is for the kids! So, this one goes out to all of the parents out there who need a chance to relax and think back to the calmer times of summer.
The Pimm’s Cup is one of the few cocktails that is, without a doubt, quintessentially British. The name is derived from the base liquor, Pimm’s No. 1, a concoction formulated by British barman James Pimm in the 1840s in his London bar as a housemade fruit, citrus, and herb-infused gin. Like many herbal liqueurs, the original recipe of Pimm’s is closely guarded and it’s said that only six people in the world actually know it. If I were to describe Pimm’s, it has the dryness of gin with a caramel color and the additional taste of citrus peel and a touch of sweetness. It’s delicious on its own served over ice but even better when mixed with a bunch of fresh ingredients that highlight the different elements of its flavor.
Also known as the Official Drink of Wimbledon, the most basic version of this drink starts with one part Pimm’s No. 1 topped with three parts lemonade and garnished with cucumber and mint. Although that makes a perfectly acceptable cocktail, this version takes all of the good things of a classic Pimm’s Cup and makes them even better with a few seasonal additions.
Since it’s 50 proof (25% alcohol), it might seem at first glance that there’s a lot of alcohol in this drink, but it’s actually quite light and best served in a big glass (in my opinion the bigger, the better). And, at approximately $20 per bottle, it’s quite affordable. To extract even more of the flavor from the fruits, herbs, and cucumber, everything is muddled together, shaken over ice with the Pimm’s, topped with ginger ale (which I prefer over lemonade for its fizz), and garnished with more of everything. The result is a refreshing, lightly sweet, herbaceous, and fresh cocktail that’s perfect for an afternoon picnic, patio dinner party, or just before dinner as a summertime aperitif.
Before we end, can we talk about the Royal Baby for a minute? Sorry, I mean His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. Last month, the world was hot, hot, hot awaiting the news of the birth of this little guy. I, for one, was less than thrilled with the homepage of CNN taken over by a livestream…of the outside of a hospital. But alas, “Boy George” is the rightful heir to the throne, so, for some, it is kind of a big deal. Since the Pimm’s Cup is a British drink, this one also goes out to new parents Kate and William for putting up with all of the media frenzy. Have one of these while your baby’s having a bottle and enjoy your new family.
For everyone else, hand your kids a juice box then settle down with a round of Pimm’s “Sippy” Cups for yourself. It’ll make the back-to-school transition much easier, I promise. Just be careful – they go down deceptively easy, so you might be ready for nap time before you know it.
The Pimm’s “Sippy” Cup
Yield: 1 cocktail
Time: 5 minutes
Glassware: highball or pint glass
Tools: muddler, shaker
2 cherries, pitted and halved
⅛ lemon, cut into small chunks
3 mint leaves
2 cucumber slices, seeded and cut ¼” thick
4 fl. oz. (119ml) Pimm’s No. 1
8 fl. oz. (237ml) ginger ale, ginger beer, or lemonade
mint, lemon, cucumber slices, and berries for garnish
In the bottom of a shaker, add blueberries, raspberries, lemon, mint, and cucumber slices. Muddle lightly to crush everything.
Add the Pimm’s, a scoop of ice, and shake until cold.
Pour everything, including ice, into a large highball or pint glass then top with ginger ale, ginger beer, or lemonade.
- To garnish, push a few slices of cucumber, leaves of mint, and fresh berries into the glass. On the rim, add a wheel of cucumber and lemon. Serve with a festive straw.