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Pimm’s Cup: A Touch of Class

Just as people have high-society and animals have pedigrees drinks also have hierarchy. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup sits fittingly high atop the rungs of the drinking ladder. A favored summer drink of the British, Pimm’s cup is often quaffed during sports events such as Wimbledon and The Royal Henley Regatta, and has garnered aristocratic plumage by being loved by high society.

A Brief History of Pimm’s

According to Imbibe Magazine, Pimm’s cup was first concocted in 1823 by London oyster bar owner James Pimm as a “house cup” or punch to serve with shellfish. It was the custom of pubs to have a signature drink, and James Pimm’s gin-based house cup gained notoriety over all the others so that by 1851 it had become a favored drink throughout the city of London. The Wine Enthusiast Magazine says that Pimm’s Cup was first touted as a digestive aid and was served to customers in tankards that were called “No. 1 Cups.” By the late Victorian era Pimm’s Cup had become the toast of British officers for as far as the sun could rise over the British Empire.

How the Wimbledon Experts Make a Pimm’s Cup Cocktail

As we previously mentioned, Pimm’s No. 1 Cup in a tea-colored, gin-based  mixed drink, essentially a liquor. Dry gin is mixed with liqueur, fruit juices and spices in a proprietary recipe.  Of course, Pimm’s No. 1 is made in England. The exact ingredients of Pimm’s No. 1 are a closely held secret:  Only six people in the world know exactly what those ingredients are.

During a recent interview at a party on the grounds of Wimbledon, Martin Joyce, the director of operations at the official caterer of Wimbledon (FMC), gave the following instructions for how to make the best Pimm’s Cup cocktail:

Pour a measure of of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (about 1/16th of a bottle) into a highball glass filled with lots of ice to the top, and you top it off with lemonade or 7-Up (more lemonade than 7-Up). Then, you finish it with half a strawberry, a little sprig of mint and a little bit of cucumber skin. Using the right garnish is key to the presentation of a Pimm’s Cup cocktail. Joyce added that normally FMC would add a sprig of borage (an herb with bright blue flowers), but at Wimbledon the quantity of Pimm’s Cups ordered is too high to keep sufficient stock of the herb: At least 10,000 to 15,000 Pimm’s cups are served daily at Wimbledon. At 50 proof, Pimm’s is just the right drink for staying fashionably cool in polite society.


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