Definitions

Pimm's

Pimm's

Pimm's is a brand of alcoholic beverages now owned by Diageo. Its most popular product is Pimm's No. 1 Cup, a gin-based beverage that can be served both on ice or in cocktails. The recipe of Pimm's No. 1 Cup is secret; it has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit.

Pimm's is most common in Britain, particularly Southern England. It is one of the two staple drinks at Wimbledon, the Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne opera festival, the other being champagne. As a result Pimm's has the reputation of being a drink for the upper class.

Pimm's No. 1 Cup is the essential ingredient in the Pimm's Cup, which mixes one part Pimm's No.1 with three parts lemonade or lemon soda (sometimes ginger ale or Indian tonic water), ice cubes, borage leaves (nowadays a wedge of cucumber is usually substituted for this ingredient - they have a similar taste), mint leaves and slices of lemon, orange and strawberry.

There are five other Pimm's products besides No.1. The essential difference among them is the base alcohol used to produce them:

  • Pimm's No. 1 Cup is based on gin. It is 25% alcohol by volume.
  • Pimm's No. 2 Cup was based on whisky. Currently phased out.
  • Pimm's No. 3 Cup is based on brandy. Phased out, but a version infused with spices and orange peel marketed as Pimm's Winter Cup is now seasonally available.
  • Pimm's No. 4 Cup was based on rum. Currently phased out.
  • Pimm's No. 5 Cup was based on rye. Currently phased out.
  • Pimm's No. 6 Cup is based on vodka. It is still produced, but in small quantities.

Pimm's No. 1 can also be purchased as a pre-mixed fortified lemonade (Pimm's & Lemonade) in 250 mL cans or 1-litre bottles.

Substitution

Pimm's may not always be available, especially outside the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Bartenders who wish to make a Pimm's Cup without its main ingredient usually mix one part gin with one part red Vermouth and 1/2 part to 1 part of triple sec or Orange Curacao but there is no proof that this is in any way similar to actual Pimms.

History and culture

Pimm's was first produced in 1823, by James Pimm, a farmer's son from Kent who became the owner of an oyster bar in the City of London, near the Bank of England. Pimm offered the tonic, (a gin-based drink containing quinine and a secret mixture of herbs) as an aid to digestion, serving it in a small tankard known as a "No. 1 Cup", hence its subsequent name. Pimm's began large-scale production in 1851 to keep up with sales to other bars. The distillery began selling it commercially in 1859 using hawkers on bicycles. In 1865 Pimm sold the business and the right to use his name to Frederick Saywer. In 1880 the business was acquired by future Mayor of London Horatio Davies and a chain of Pimm's Oyster Houses was franchised in 1887.

Pimm's later extended their range, utilising a number of other spirits as bases for new "cups". In 1851 Pimm's No. 2 Cup and Pimm's No. 3 Cup were introduced. After World War II, Pimm's No. 4 Cup was invented, followed by Pimm's No. 5 Cup and Pimm's No.6 Cup in the 1960s. In 1946, the corks were replaced by twist-off bottle caps.

The brand fell on hard times in the 1970s and 1980s. The Oyster House chain was sold and Pimm's Cups products Nos. 2 through 5 were phased out in the 1970s due to reduced demand. In 2005, Pimm's reintroduced Pimm's Winter Cup, which consists of Pimms No. 3 Cup (the brandy variant) infused with spices and orange peel. In 2006 the Pimm's Company brand was bought by Diageo.

Competition

Pimms No. 1 Cup has inspired a number of other drinks companies to produce their own versions of fruit cups, these include:

Sources

  • "How a farmer's son invented taste of the social summer", by Mark Gardner, Faversham Times, 25 June 2005
  • http://www.anyoneforpimms.com Promotional website
  • Hallgarten, P A - Spirits and Liqueurs (1979)
  • Jones, Andrew - The Aperitif Companion (1998)

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