27 August 2011

Two pitchers of Pimm’s to mark the end of summer

A pitcher of Pimm’s to mark the end of summer

Patrick Comerford

A pitcher of Pimm’s evokes wonderful images of lingering summer afternoons in England ... lazing by Mag’s Bridge; watching the punts; cricket in Lichfield; garden parties in Cambridge college courts; sitting at the grass waiting for an open-air theatre or opera production, tennis, Henley ... It’s the drink for English garden parties and picnics.

There is something English about Pimm’s that means it can never be replaced by champagne.

And so, my contribution to a local street party marking the end of summer was two pitchers of Pimm’s.

Originally, there were six different types of Pimm’s:

Pimm’s No 1 is based on gin and can be served on ice or in cocktails. It has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus. It is often taken with English-style, clear and carbonated lemonade, with chopped fresh ingredients, particularly apples, cucumbers, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries and bruised mint.

Pimm’s No 2 was based on Scotch whisky.

Pimm’s No 3 is based on brandy.

Pimm’s No 4 was based on rum.

Pimm’s No 5 was based on rye whiskey.

Pimm’s No 6 is based on vodka.

Only Pimm’s 1, 3 and 6 are now available. But this evening’s pitchers were made with Pimm’s No 1, which is the true and original version.

Pimm’s was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm, the owner of an oyster bar in the City of London, where he offered a gin-based drink made from quinine and a secret mixture of herbs as an aid to digestion. The spices were intended to soften the hard edge of the gin. He served this drink in a small tankard known as a “No 1 Cup,” which gave the drink its lasting name.

Large-scale production began in 1851, the distillery began selling it commercially in 1859, and over the next century the range was expanded.

The Hedgehog in Lichfield ... where they taught me how to mix Pimm’s this summer (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

How do you serve Pimm’s? After many summers of enjoying it, I was taught how to mix Pimm’s in the Hedgehog in Lichfield this summer.

Take a large pitcher and loads of ice. Mix one par tof Pimm’s No 1 to three parts of chilled lemonade, and add generous and copious amounts of bruised mint, sliced cucumber, orange, lemon, lime and apple and chopped strawberry. Thin slices help the flavours come out, and the bruised leaves impart a stronger mint flavour. Allow the drink to sit in the pitchers for half an hour or so, so the flavours are able to really burst out.

But I suppose everyone has his or her own recipe, and you just have to accept that every pitcher is going to be different – either subtly different, or wildly so. More mint or less lemon is going to affect the taste in quite an obvious way.


Stephen Neill said...

My kind of spirituality :)

Charles Kinnaird said...

Sounds refreshing. I wonder if I can find Primm's in the USA?