I’ve worked in wide array of establishments in my long life as a bartender, and every place I’ve been behind the stick I’ve managed to learn something new. I once worked at a pub where I learned all about single malt scotch. I also learned that women never get tired of asking men what they’re wearing under the kilts (keep it classy ladies). Perhaps the best thing I took away from that particular job is what has become a lifelong love affair with Pimm’s. For those unfamiliar, Pimm’s is a gin based liqueur that contains quinine and a slew of ingredients and, as many liquor legends tend to go, only a handful of individuals have been bestowed with knowledge of the true recipe. Whatever is in it, it’s damn tasty and should most certainly be a recurring artist in your warm weather cocktail playlist. A Pimm’s Cup is probably one of my favorite warm weather cocktails. The Pimm’s Cup is to Wimbledon what the Mint Julep is to the Derby. A traditional Pimm’s Cup is simply Pimm’s with citrus soda or lemonade and cucumber. Do not be mistaken – Pimm’s is not one of those soft flowery liqueurs: it is assertive with a slight sweetness that makes it perfect for mixing. If this liqueur were a Patrick Swayze character, it would be Johnny from Dirty Dancing. In the same manner that Johnny is manly enough to pull off a hippy rhumba, the Pimm’s is bold enough to stand up to the sweet mixers that tend to bog down many spring cocktails. This is a great mixer for imbibers who want something refreshing and light, but are not all for fruity and sweet flavors. Today’s cocktail really preaches to those of you who, like me, love savory cocktails. This is an herbaceous riff on the same flavor profiles of the classic Pimm’s Cup. For those who’d like more traditional flavor profiles, fear not: there are different versions of this cocktail. But for those willing to make the leap, I promise this cocktail will catch you!
CUCUMBER CHIVE SYRUP:
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 English Cucumber sliced
¼ cup finely chopped chive
Peel of one orange
In a medium sized pot add sugar and water over medium low heat. Once sugar has dissolved add cucumber, chive, and orange peel. Do not let mixture come to a boil: you want to make sure you don’t overcook cucumber. Stir occasionally and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow mixture to cool and then strain, store syrup in the refrigerator.
MR JAMES PIMM
GLASSWARE: Collins glass
GARNISH: cucumber slice/orange slice
1 oz Hendricks Gin
1 oz Pimm’s
1 oz cucumber chive syrup
4 oz soda water
Muddle 1 cucumber slice and orange in a Collins glass. Add Pimm’s, gin and cucumber chive syrup to glass, then add soda water and ice.
MIX IT UP: If you’re not into overly savory cocktails and want something a little softer, omit the chives from the simple syrup. For another take, omit the chive and add 2 tsp of rose water for a floral twist. For a spicy twist, swap out the soda water for non-alcoholic ginger beer.
MARATHON NOT A RACE: To keep it on the low proof side, swap out the gin for Lillet Rose and use the cucumber rose water syrup for something that tastes like a refreshing spring breeze.
O.G. CLASSIC: A classic is deemed as such for a reason, so definitely start by making the original and see where your palate takes you. This is a great low octane cocktail for those days of celebration that start early and never seem to end.
CLASSIC PIMM’S CUP:
1 ½ oz Pimms
4 oz lemon lime soda
Muddle cucumber slice in the bottom of a glass, add Pimm’s, then lemon lime soda and ice. You can also add mint and/or different types of fruit like berries or citrus fruits.
Cheers, and let’s have the time of our lives!
Your neighborhood bartender,