The sporting world has an impressive roster of iconic cocktails. From the Kentucky Derby’s mint julep to the U.S. Open’s Honey Deuce, there seems to be something about watching athletic competition that inspires us to mix up a signature sip. Of course, when it comes to the British Grand Slam, Wimbledon, that cocktail could be no other than the Pimm’s Cup. A quintessentially British combination of Pimm’s No. 1, lemonade, and fruit, it’s a refreshing, low-alcohol concoction that’s perfect for sipping not only during Wimbledon but all summer long. Here’s exactly what you need to make the perfect Wimbledon-watching companion, as well as answers to all of those burning questions you’ve always had about one of tennis’s most famous drinks.
So what exactly is Pimm’s No. 1?
Essentially, it’s a gin-based liqueur. James Pimm, a farmer’s son who owned an oyster bar in 19th-century London, created and offered his guests this secret mix of gin, quinine, and a spice blend as a tonic to aid digestion. Today it’s 25 percent alcohol by volume, or 50 proof.
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Where does the “cup” part come from?
Simple: Pimm served his drink in a tankard that he called a “No. 1 Cup.”
Variations On the Theme
As any Pimm’s enthusiast will likely be happy to tell you, there are lots of ways to mix up a batch. In addition to—or instead of—the above ingredients, you can add:
- Sprite, 7UP, or other lemon-lime soda
- Ginger ale or ginger beer
- Lemon juice (with our without sugar)
- Slices of any citrus fruit (lemon, lime, orange, etc.). Apple slices are also nice, though be careful not to turn your Pimms Cup into sangria.
Of course, the Pimm’s Cup isn’t the only way to enjoy the liqueur—from tropical twists to warm winter sips, and of course, sparkling options, there are plenty of other delicious cocktails to be made with Pimm’s.
How it Became the Traditional Cocktail of Wimbledon
Pimm’s was so popular at the oyster bar that James Pimm started selling it around London for “three shillings a bottle” in the 1800s. Commercial distribution followed in 1865, as did other “cup” variations including ones made with Scotch, rum, brandy, rye whiskey, and vodka. Of those, only the vodka-based Pimm’s No. 6 remain.
Pimm’s caught on with the British and became popular at prestigious events like the Chelsea Flower Show and the Henley Royal Regatta, along with becoming the go-to drink at British university garden parties. A Pimm’s bar first popped up at the 1971 Wimbledon tournament, and now more than 300,000 glasses of the recipe are served to spectators every year.
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