Pimm's Cup: A Favorite British Lemonade Cocktail Recipe

Pimm's Cup Cocktail
The Pimm's Cup is a popular and easy mixed drink that's a summertime hit in the U.K. and it makes a great brunch cocktail. Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Photolibrary / Getty Images
    3 mins
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The Pimm's Cup is both a liqueur and a mixed drink. It is a delightful and easy beverage that pairs the namesake liqueur with lemonade and it may quickly become one of your new favorites.

Pimm's is very popular in the United Kingdom and the mixed drink could be considered the 'official' refreshment of Wimbledon. It is a spectacular summer cocktail that is fitting for a tennis match in July or any other occasion, for that matter.

The liqueur featured is Pimm's Cup No. 1, a gin-based spirit with the flavor of spiced fruit that originated at the Oyster Bar in London. Adding a mixer as subtle as lemonade enhances its character and turns it into a stimulating and light beverage.

You can easily increase this recipe to fill a pitcher and serve it as a refreshing brunch drink or an alternative for tea time.

This first recipe is also called 'Pimm's Original' by The Pimm's Company. Though there are many recipes for a Pimm's Cup No. 1, this should really be considered the most traditional.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Pour the liqueur into a collins glass filled with ice cubes.
  2. Add the lemonade.
  3. Garnish with the cucumber and any combination of mint, orange, or strawberries.

It's almost more 'traditional' for a sparkling lemonade to be used in the drink though the fizz is left out in The Pimm's Company's current recipe. It is a fantastic addition, however, and you can bring it back in any number of ways.

  • Carbonate a still lemonade directly using a soda machine.
  • Use sparkling water (seltzer or club soda) as a portion of the water while mixing lemonade.

Variations on the Pimm's Cup 

As mentioned, there are many recipes for a Pimm's Cup and this one does include that sparkling water. Also, notice how the Pimm's itself is increased which gives the drink a little more punch (as you'll see, it's very light so this may not be a bad idea).

  • 2 part Pimm's Cup No. 1 
  • 3 parts lemonade
  • Club soda or seltzer
  • Lemon twist for garnish
  • Cucumber slice or peel for garnish

Now, if you'd like to shake things up a little more, here are two very popular variations:

  • Pimm's Rangoon: Top the drink off with ginger ale.
  • Pimm's Royal: Top the drink off with Champagne.

What is Pimm's Cup No. 1?

Pimm's is the familiar name for a liqueur that is formally known as Pimm's Cup No. 1 (the same as the mixed drink, though the drink typically drops the 'No. 1').

It is a gin-based liqueur with a deep red color that is flavored with 'herbal botanicals,' spices, and caramelized orange. What exactly those botanicals and spices are, only the people behind the brand know for sure. 

The story begins in 1840 with James Pimm at his Oyster Bar in London. As was customary at the time, he was a master of creating his own liqueurs and he called each of his secret recipes a 'house cup.'

Rather than giving each liqueur a unique name, Pimm numbered his cups. They quickly became famous and before the turn of the century they were bottled and sold outside the bar.

Over the years, there has been a total of six Pimm's recipes that were bottled and sold. Each began with a different base liquor and used various herbs, fruits, and spices to create the unique flavors.

  • Pimm's Cup No. 1 - gin
  • Pimm's Cup No. 2 - scotch
  • Pimm's Cup No. 3 - brandy
  • Pimm's Cup No. 4 - rum
  • Pimm's Cup No. 5 - rye whiskey
  • Pimm's Cup No. 6 - vodka

Pimm's fell out of the limelight around the 1970s and dramatic changes have been made to the brand's portfolio. Today, The Pimm's Company produces only three liqueurs; the gin, brandy, and vodka versions. Of these, only Pimm's Cup No. 1 held onto its original name.

  • Pimm's Cup No. 1 - As mentioned, gin with herbs, spices, and caramelized oranges. 25% ABV (50 proof)
  • Blackberry & Elderflower - A recipe based on No. 6 with vodka, this is a fascinating fruit cup of the named ingredients. It can also be used in the Pimm's Cup No. 1 drink recipe. 20% ABV (40 proof)
  • Winter Cup (No. 3) - Brandy-based with cinnamon, caramel, and orange that is the brand's answer for the winter months. Try this one with ginger ale. 25% ABV (50 proof)

As of 2016, The Pimm's Company is a Diageo brand and you can generally find any of these bottles for around $20. 

Visit the Pimm's Website

How Strong is the Pimm's CupDrink?

The Pimm's Original mixed drink is extremely light and has an alcohol content of right around 6% ABV (12 proof). This is about the same as the average beer so feel free to have a second round.