One of the little luxuries of living in the Phoenix area is that come winter, we get to brag about the mild climate to our friends who are snowed in somewhere back east. One of my favorite ways to do this is by mentioning that while they're stuck salting roads, the only thing I'm salting is a margarita glass.
Of course, one can't live on frozen margaritas alone. Not that I haven't tried when I'm poolside midsummer, but I digress. One of my favorite beverages any time of year is Pimm's Cup, which is both the name of a quintessential British quaff, and the spirit used to make the beverage.
See also: How to Make Perfect Frozen Margaritas
Making the drink should be fairly simple. Of course, I've seen bartenders completely muck it up by doing a wild interpretation by adding all manner of ingredients, muddling things, pouring in extra spirits, what have you. What they make is all well and good, but it's gilding the lily.
To make a proper Pimm's, pour a shot of Pimm's into a glass, top it up with lemonade, and then garnish it either with restraint (a strawberry) or reckless abandon (everything in the bar garnish tray but the olives; I've been known to do up mine with orange, lemon, lime, mint sprig, a cucumber spear, and still had room to fit the strawberry).
There is one significant challenge in getting a right and proper Pimm's around these parts. It's the lemonade. If you order lemonade in Great Britain, you are more likely to get a sparkling lemon soda. Our lemonade doesn't have quite the same flavor profile as a commercial British lemonade, even if it's made with sparkling water instead of regular water. What's a bartender to do? Lemon-lime soda such as 7-Up doesn't taste right because there's lime involved. Ginger ale works in a pinch, I suppose.
Better still is to step away from the soda gun, and pick up some bottled products from across the pond. Pretty much any grocery store that tries to come across as remotely upscale will have bottled French or Italian sparkling lemonade. Both of those work great.
Even better is Fentiman's Victorian Lemonade. It's the only true British lemonade I've seen on this side of the pond. It is a little harder to find, but not by much. Both Total Wine and BevMo carry it. It carries a bit of a steep price tag, but if you want to be authentic it's the only game in town.
While I quite enjoy classic Pimm's, I was recently delighted to find out that a new flavor has made its way stateside: Pimm's Blackberry Elderflower. I'm not usually a fan of gratuitous product line expansion through introducing new flavors, but the Blackberry Elderflower is more well thought out than the candy flavored vodka du jour. More importantly, it's delicious.
Ardent fans of Pimm's know that having multiple varieties in the product line is nothing new. In fact, back in Pimm's heyday, there were no less than six varieties, each with its own different base spirit. They had since cut back on the line down to the original gin-based No. 1, and have had it that way for some years.
So, the Blackberry Elderflower Pimm's is a return to their classic ways. The vodka base means it's something of a reincarnation of Pimm's No. 6, with super-trendy elderflower involved this time. It's a little fruitier than regular Pimm's, with a little bit of an herbal kick that I couldn't quite put my finger on... Rosemary, perhaps?
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Whatever goes into it, it's quite refreshing. I have a feeling that my patio lunches at home will have a British flair for a while.
Pimm's Cup 2 ounces Pimm's 4 to 6 ounces sparkling lemonade
Pour over ice into a tall glass. Stir gently to combine. Garnish as desired.