Pimm’s Cup – Classic No.1 Recipe & History

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Pimm’s Cup

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British






Total time



Learn how to make the a classic Pimm’s No.1 Cup.


  • 2 oz 2 Pimm’s No.1 Concentrate

  • 5 oz 5 Sparkling Lemonade


  • Technique: Build In Glass
  • Pour Pimm’s into a glass with ice.
  • Stir to chill and top with lemon-lime soda/lemonade.
  • Garnish:
  • Strawberry slices, cucumber slices, and mint.


Featured Video

The History Of James Pimm’s Tonic Drink.

The Pimm’s No. 1 Cup was Invented in either the 1820s or 1830s by James Pimm in London and was 1 of 6 different house drinks. James Pimm’s No. 1 Cup was a gin cocktail, thus making Pimm’s cup a gin cocktail. No.2 was a scotch cocktail, No.3 was a brandy cocktail, No.4 was a rum cocktail, No.5 was a rye whiskey cocktail, and No.6 was a vodka cocktail. James Pimm only invented 1, 2, and 3, with No. 4, 5, and 6 being created almost 100 years later. James Pimm would start his cocktails with a base spirit, add some quinine and herbs, sweeten it with lemonade, and was sold it as a tonic/health drink. Each cup had a different base spirit and a different health benefit.

James Pimm eventually started selling pre-made concentrated bottles of each of his drinks that the average person could buy at a store and make at home by just adding lemonade. Similar to how you can purchase pre-made margarita mix and need to add tequila. So when you buy a bottle of Pimms No.1 Cup, you’re buying Pimm’s No.1 Cup concentrate. In the 1970s, the Pimm’s company was purchased, and No.2 – No.6 were eventually phased out, leaving only his gin-based No.1 concentrate. Sometimes No.3 is sold in limited releases as Pimm’s Winter cup and No.6 as Pimm’s Vodka Cup. Old bottles of 2-6 will go to auction and get anywhere from 150 to 400 dollars a bottle. I can’t imagine that they still taste any good.

What do you mix with Pimms?

There are four different mixers to add to Pimms. The original mixer is sparkling lemonade. Sparkling lemonade is not Sprite or 7Up; it’s more like the fancy French or sparkling Italian lemonades you would find at a Trader Joe’s or whole foods. If you don’t have access to sparkling lemonade, you can make your own by combining lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water. Another mixer is just ordinary lemonade. This is my favorite way since it’s a bit more acidic and less sweet, and it makes the drink taste like a herbal Tom Collins. Another mixer, and maybe most common, is ginger beer. This is a smart way to mix it today, and it does add a nice spice to the drink. The last mixer is lemon-lime soda, like Sprite or 7Up. This last one is a pretty dull mixer since it just adds sweetness and no extra natural flavor. But if you want to go traditional, then go with sparkling lemonade.

What Does The Pimm’s Cup Taste Like?

The final taste of a Pimm’s cup will vary based on what it is mixed with. Pimm’s No.1 has an excellent taste similar to that of a gin-based Drambuie meets sweet vermouth. It would be interesting to experiment with it as a sweet vermouth substitute, but back to the Pimm’s cup. Sparkling lemonade adds a nice sweetness and lemon flavor without being acidic. Regular lemonade adds a nice bit of lemon and tart flavor to the drink while being the least sweet. Ginger Beer replaces the tart lemon flavor with a spicy, peppery, earthy flavor. Lemon Lime soda simply adds a soda-like sweetness. Lemon-lime soda is not bad, but the other three taste better.

How To Garnishing a Pimm’s Cup.

The Pimm’s Cup is unique from other cocktails because the garnishes are just as important as the drink itself. A Pimm’s without garnishes is not a proper Pimm’s. I once read that Pimm’s used bergamot petals, but since those are expensive and hard to find, a common substitute is cucumber slices. I’m not sure if that is true or not, but the standard garnishes that go into a Pimm’s Cup are cucumber slices, strawberry slices, and mint, and I will agree that they make the drink taste better.

Making A Whole Pitcher Of Pimm’s Cup.

I have provided a recipe for every single drink. If you want to make a pitcher of this with a whole bottle of Pimm’s, mix an entire bottle of Pimm’s with 1.9L (about 8 cups) of the mixer. Remember to add the garnishes to the pitcher as well.

The Most Important Ingredient.

The essential ingredient in the Pimm’s Cup is your mixer. As described above, the mixer used will completely change the drink. So my advice is to ditch the soda and use either ginger beer, a nice lemonade, or drive to Trader Joe’s and buy sparkling Italian lemonade. Life is too short to waste on drinking a subpar mixer.

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