There's nothing better than a chilly drink on a hot summer evening, but while you're reaching for a familiar cocktail, beer or glass of wine, people all across England are cheerful guzzling down their signature drink: Pimm's. Though not as popular in the U.S. Pimm's is a favorite summer cocktail across the pond, where the English sip on it while watching a horse race, shopping at Borough Market or cheering on their favorite tennis player at Wimbledon.

What Is Pimm's?

Pimm's is a gin-based liquor that includes herbs, quinine and fruit, although the original and exact recipe is still unknown. The bottled drink has an ABV of 25 percent and is often sold as a fruit cup, which mixes the liquor with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to enrichen the liquor's sharp flavor. Although there were once several forms of Pimm's sold, most variations have been discontinued because of the massive and continued success of the original Pimm's No. 1 Cup. Pimm's No. 2 Cup, No. 3 Cup, No. 4 Cup, No. 5 Cup and No. 6 Cup were all sold with different bases such as Scotch whisky, brandy, vodka and rum, but have since been phased out. Although Pimm's No. 1 Cup is the only widely available product, it's thriving.

Nearly empty pitcher of pimm's with two full glasses

MD111/Shutterstock

The Origins Of Pimm's

Pimm's was introduced to England in the mid 19th century when James Pimm, who owned an oyster bar in London, released a long-brewing drink mix called "No. 1 Cup," which he claimed was a tonic to aid digestion. His cocktail, dubbed "Pimm's Cup," became a success in a very short amount of time. By 1851, Pimm began large-scale production on his drink. Since its original creation and evolution into other cup blends, the drink has traveled across Britain, crossed into other European countries and been exported across the world. However, the U.S. has interacted with the popular gin very little, though a variation of the summer cup is well known in Louisiana. Today, Pimm's is an official partner of Wimbledon, where about 230,000 glasses of the drink are sold each year. But what made the odd mixture so delectable?

What Does Pimm's Taste Like?

If you're not a fan of sweet, crisp, light drinks, Pimm's will probably not suit your fancy. However, it's the drink's fruity lightness that makes it a staple of summer, and it's much less bitter than many other gin-based drinks such as gin and tonic. Various Pimm's-based cocktails have popped up in bars and households across the world, and though the added fruits and flavorings vary from location to location, all have the signature summer freshness.

plastic pitchers of pimm's cocktails

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The Original Pimm's Cocktail

The Pimm's Original is a refreshing drink made from Pimm's No. 1 Cup. If you want to see what the buzz is about in Britain, you can easily make your own Pimm's cocktail with this official recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Pimm's Original No. 1
  • Lemonade
  • Mint
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumber to garnish
  • Ice

Instructions:

  • Slice the oranges and strawberries into small chunks with a paring knife
  • Fill a jug with ice and pour in the Pimm's and lemonade. Figure out a ratio that works for you -- obviously, the more Pimm's you include the more potent the drink will be. The recommended ratio is one part Pimm's and three parts lemonade.
  • Add the strawberries, oranges and mint and mix
  • Serve in a highball glass and garnish with cucumber

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