I guess its official: I am on a cocktail kick...but its more than only drinking cocktails, because I still want to drink wine with dinner. I am learning that there are so many wonderful drink flavors and great combinations of tastes (especially for summer!) out there--its like a whole new world and I just want to mix things up a bit... literally and figuratively with my pre-dinner drink. Plus, I love the whole notion of an aperitif...An aperitif is usually served before the meal to stimulate the appetite...the whole notion reminds me of Parisian or Roman cafes circa 1890...seems so civilized--so this is my new thing.
Last year for my birthday, we went to The Tabard Inn for a delightfully delicious meal in this historic (one of the oldest in DC!) and quirky restaurant/hotel. The Tabard is known for its famous chefs, New American cusine and using only what is local & seasonal. For a change of pace, I ordered the house cocktail instead of going right for the standard glass of wine. It was a PIMM'S CUP. I had no idea what is was...but it was DELICIOUS and I have thought about it ever since. So, this year, I decided to find out what it was and how to make it.
Pimm's was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm, a farmer's son from Kent who became the owner of an oyster bar in the City of London. Pimm offered the tonic (a gin-based drink containing quinine and a secret mixture of herbs) as an aid to digestion, serving it in a small tankard known as a "No. 1 Cup", hence its subsequent name.
Pimm's No. 1 Cup is based on gin and can be served both on ice or in cocktails. It has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. It is often taken with "English-style" (clear and carbonated) lemonade, as well as various chopped fresh ingredients, particularly apples, cucumber, oranges, lemons, strawberry, and borage, though nowadays most substitute mint. Ginger ale is a common substitute for lemonade. Pimm's can also be mixed with champagne (or a sparkling white wine), called a "Pimm's Royal Cup".
Its base as bottled is 25% alcohol by volume.
So, it started out as a liquer or an aperitif, very low in alcoholic content, to mix with Gin. A Pimm's Cup is very popular in England--kind of like the State drink! But what the English call "leomonade" we call lemon/lime soda. Think 7-Up!! This is really a wonderfully refreshing drink because you add a couple ounces of Pimm's to glass of ice with lemon/lime soda, stir and garnish with a cucumber spear. Ginger ale also works well. It tastes summery and a little bit spicy and it's like it was meant for the cucumber!! Plus, since its low in alcohol, it won't bowl you over...
Then, I found a Pimm's Cup Punch recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart)...I made a batch of this recently and its SOO good. In a pitcher combine:
2 parts (real, American) leomande
2 parts Ginger Ale
1/2 part Gin
1/2 part Pimm's
lots of ice...stir and garnish with lemon and cucumber slices.
Really, really wonderful and surprisingly light and summery.
I promise, once you try this--you will only want to drink wine with dinner too!