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In The Family
What’s a Pimm’s Cup?

Get to know the quintessential English summer cocktail.

A Pimm’s cup is one of those things, like pasta or rice, that refers to both a finished meal or dish and the main ingredient of that dish. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, the bottle, is a sweet liqueur with a gin base and a secret basket of aromatic botanicals blended to aid digestion. Pimm’s cups are the drink you make with that liqueur, always in a tall glass with ice, usually with summer fruits like strawberries and cucumbers, and typically with a bubbly dilutant like seltzer and fresh citrus, ginger ale, or a citrus soda. (Best-case scenario: French citron pressé. Worst case: 7-Up.)

The name “cup” refers to an old style of light, refreshing cocktails, similar in some ways to cobblers and smashes, but even lighter on the alcohol. As for the Pimm’s liqueur, Pimm’s No. 1 Cup actually has some siblings; subsequent recipes were made with brandy, whiskey, and vodka bases, though a few have been discontinued.

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.