The History of Pimms, The Hope of Summer

I pulled the rouladen (German rolling shutters) down tight before bed last night.  Not to darken our rooms, but to keep the chill out.  Then I woke hungry this morning–hungry for heat and sun.  For summer.  The rouladen were holding back the chill of a 44 degree (Fahrenheit) morning.

This is liquid yum!  See the recipe below for a Pimms Cup.
This is liquid yum! See the recipe below for a Pimms Cup.

Summer has been hesitant in the Rhineland these past two weeks–she’s given in way too early to cold and wet autumn.  But I’m hopeful.  I’m hopeful that she’ll be back for what we southerners call Indian Summer–an unseasonably late heat wave.  I’d like to be scorched, for just a few days, to complain about the heat, the sweat that begins at 7 a.m., the stifling humidity.  I’d settle for a day without a jacket and for an evening on the balcony, sleeveless and sipping Pimms.

The perfect summer drink–a Pimms Cup.   Millions of Brits think so, and so does this one time transplant from the South.  It’s not just for wedding parties or Wimbledon or the Royal Ascot.  It’s pure summer deliciousness on a balmy day, OR the perfect taste of balmy-berry-sweetness-and-ginger-bite-sunshine when the day needs some reminding that it is, in fact, summertime.

According to the BBC, James Pimm, a London restaurateur, began selling the elixir in the 1840’s.  Within a few decades the drink had become outrageously popular.  If marketing slogans can reliably note a product’s popularity, consider this slogan from the 1930’s:  We had to let the west wing go, but thank heavens we can still afford our Pimm’s.  

Yes, we all have to have our priorities, and there are days when I might have traded my kingdom for a Pimms. . . especially if that Pimms came with a warm and sunny day attached.

Pimms No. 1  is a gin based drink with an infusion of bitters and herbs.  I’m not a gin girl–it’s always tasted like pine needles to me–but the magic they work on Pimms is undeniable.  Over the years, other recipes have been introduced, featuring whiskey, brandy, rum, rye, and vodka.  At present, only Pimms No. 1 and Pimms No. 6 (vodka based) are being produced.

A traditional take on the Pimms Cup:Pimms-Cup

  • Mix one part Pimm’s with two or three parts ginger ale (preferably a strong ginger ale) over ice.
  • Add mint leaves, strawberry slices, thin cucumber slices, and raspberry or orange slices if you like. (We’ve even dropped a little watermelon in, and it was very tasty.)
  • You can mix this by the glass or by the pitcherful.

I know a few folk who love a good Pimms Royal, which is a mix of Pimms and Champagne.  I haven’t tried it, but if the weather ever turns back to summer here, I’ll try a spot on my balcony and then get back to you with my thoughts.

Until then:  Cheers!  Cheerio! and Auf Weidersehen!