As perfectly paired as a flute of champagne to a New Year’s celebration or a mint julep to the Kentucky Derby, a Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is the quintessential cocktail of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
James Pimm crafted the first batch of Pimm’s in 1823 at his London Oyster Bar. Gentlemen of the upper echelon of British society had always enjoyed the classic combination of oysters and gin, but Pimm’s unique “house cup,” flavored with liqueurs and fruit extract, was hailed as a digestive aid and instantly successful. Served in the now iconic cup, a “Pimm’s Cup” was born. In 1851, after years of infamy at the Oyster Bar, Pimm’s began commercial production and distribution, and, in 1887, Sir Horatio Davies, the Lord Mayor of London, purchased the brand. Davie’s acquisition solidified Pimm’s status as the beverage of the aristocratic elite and token drink of the city of London.
In 1971, Pimm’s opened its first bar at the Wimbledon tournament, and since then, the iconic gin drink has represented outstanding athletic achievement and hot summer days of spectatorship. Wimbledon serves 10,000 Pimm’s No. 1 Cups daily and 200,000 over the course of the tournament. Perhaps this version will find its home this year at the U.S. Open Championship in Flushing Meadow, NY.
The recipe for the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, though varied, is traditionally a blend of lemonade, which in Great Britain is a carbonated lemon drink comparable to the American 7-Up, fruit and, of course, Pimm’s No. 1.
Rhode Island chef Nick Rabar infuses the classic Cup with ruby red grapefruit, adding a touch of color and boost of flavor. Though separated from Wimbledon by the Atlantic Ocean, Rabar celebrates the U.S. Open and the new inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Providence, R.I., with the Pimm’s Cup.
Ruby Red Pimm’s Cup
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
4 ounces ginger ale
2 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice
1 ounce lemon syrup
2 ounces club soda
1 cucumber garnish
Combine all ingredients and serve over ice. Garnish with cucumber.
Recipe courtesy of Nick Rabar, nickrabar-chef2go.com, 2013.