It’s spring, and everyone’s experiencing the giddy flush of optimism that comes with a bit of warmth in their bones and the knowledge that winter is behind us. We’re going to picnics, gardens and horse races, and we’re going to enjoy all this with a cup of Pimm’s.
Pimm’s is a curiously English liqueur with a 200-year history. If you’re yet to familiarise yourself with it, Trish Brew at the Gin Palace in Melbourne describes the flavour as “herbaceous, with hints of citrus, and a lengthening Christmas sweetness.” If you’re still puzzled, Brew says the perfect way to enjoy a Pimm’s is in its most-classic form: garnished with fruit mixed with lemonade and preferably with a side of seafood and lemon – a tip of the hat to the drink’s origins.
Pimm’s was invented as a digestive by James Pimm, the owner of an oyster bar. In the 1820s, Pimm started serving herb-based digestives based on a mysterious gin mix which he called the No. 1 Cup. The Pimm’s range includes a variety of different liquor bases (The No. 2 Cup based on Scotch, No. 6 based on Vodka etc.), but the name has stuck.
The fruit garnish is another convention that has survived from the 1800s. “The addition of fruit is tradition, from a time when wine was the base of fruit cups, and the addition of fresh fruit added more pleasant flavours to the drink,” Brew says. In England, Pimm’s fruit cups are the standard beverage, along with champagne, drunk at Wimbledon, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the Henley Royal Regatta.
Brew says if Gin Palace had a rooftop bar it would be serving its own Royal Cups, a Pimm’s-champagne mix drunk at UK society events. Gin Palace runs a seasonal Gin and Tonic menu, and has incorporated Pimm’s in a Spanish G&T, which basically means “lots of everything”.
Gin Palace’s Spanish G&T
Approximately 1 standard drink
50ml Pimm's No.1 Cup
100ml Cascade tonic water
Thinly sliced or julienned cucumber
Sprig of mint
Mix the Pimm’s No.1 with the tonic. Add ice and garnish with strawberries, cucumber and the mint sprig.