It was indomitable Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic of the Wall Street Journal, who said ~ “Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jewelled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world.”
And speaking of drunk, the first time I ever tasted Pimms I drank it fast, like a glass of delicious cooling fruit-juice. It wasn’t long after my second tall glass of this delicious summer nectar that I fell into the fish pond. But that is another story for another day.
I expect many of you have had a Pimms or two – and because you sipped it languidly, you probably behaved exceedingly well despite its hidden potency.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this strangely potent but wonderfully refreshing English drink, here is a little history of how Pimms came about and my own particular recipe for the nectar.
Pimm's was created in the 1840s by one James Pimm, a shell-fishmonger who owned a small chain of oyster bars in the City of London. In those days, foul-tasting unrefined gin was the thing, but Pimm felt that his clientele (and his oysters) deserved something better. Using gin, quinine and a secret mixture of herbs, good old Pimm served up the brew as an aid to digestion, dishing it out in pint tankards and the No. 1 Cup moniker was born.
Pimm's potion soon became more famous than his oyster bars and by the 1860s it was being sold throughout London for three shillings a bottle. After the Second World War, Pimms extended their range, using other spirits as bases for new cups. Scotch lent its name to No. 2 cup while No. 3 used brandy, No. 4 rum, No. 5 rye and No. 6 vodka. However, the original No. 1 cup still reigns supreme.
In a large bowl mix together, according to taste:
- Bottle of Pimms No. 1
- 75cl lemonade
- 75cl ginger beer
- 75cl soda water
- fresh mint leaves
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- strawberries, halved, to garnish
Splosh everything into a chilled jug and stir gently, pour into highball glasses and garnish each with a sprig of mint and a strawberry.
Guy and I went down to the pretty Georgian seaside town of Lymington last Saturday where we sat, after a day at sea, at a pub on the quay watching boats glide by like bejewelled dragonflies. I sipped my Pimms daintily while he drank his beer as all good Englishmen do, politely but with a certain gusto.
It was a hot, blue summer evening and the temperature felt more African than Anglo. While Guy gazed out to sea, dreaming of days on the water with his childhood friend and fellow adventurer, I had my sketch book in which I had intended to capture a pretty boating moment.
I took a photograph of the boats rather than drawing them because I felt I just couldn’t do the scene justice. Instead, I drew this.
“Cat on a Hot Thin Ruth”
Sailing the Solent – off Lymington.
Across the bay – Newhaven, Isle of Wright
Long-time friend Capt’n Anthony is a Lymington regular.
The crew jump ship – Beani & friends bound for the pub.
Safely docked and time for Pimms.