The Proper Summer Cocktail: Pimm’s Cup

I simply must share with you what turned out to be the sensation of Old Hickory Lake on the 4th of July. (okay, maybe not the entire lake, but at least in the little section of Two Foot where we were anchored)

As we compiled our list for the lake last week, I was stumped when it came to deciding on my beverage. First, it needed to lend itself to drinking on a boat, out in the sun, for 5 or 6 hours. Something light and refreshing that I wouldn’t tire of drinking and wouldn’t get me too tipsy. Secondly, it needed to be premixed in large volume since mixing individual cocktails on a pontoon boat with 12 occupants would not be practical.

Recalling that there was a chapter entitled Cocktails for a Crowd in my newest acquisition, The Backyard Bartender: 55 Cool Summer Cocktails, I pulled it out, hoping for inspiration. Turning straight to that chapter, it only took about 2.5 seconds before something grabbed my attention. The Pimm’s Cup. This description couldn’t have been more perfect:

“Pimm’s No. 1 is a low-octane (50-proof) fragrant liquor made with gin that has been infused with fruits, spices, and herbs. Because of its relatively low alcohol content, and the veritable fruit salad that typically accompanies it, this is a drink that is well suited to long, hot afternoons of sipping without getting sloshed. Several glasses of properly mixed Pimm’s will leave you refreshed yet still ambulatory even if consumed under the midday sun…”

Pimm's Cup

Makes 10. From The Backyard Bartender.


Garnish: Finely sliced orange, lemon, cucumber, and apple (2 of each), plus lots of fresh mint

3 cups Pimm's No. 1, well chilled

3 cups lemonade (preferably homemade), well chilled

3 cups 7-Up or ginger ale, well chilled


Combine Pimm's No. 1, lemonade, and 7-Up or ginger ale in a large pitcher.

Add about half of the garnish elements to the pitcher and put the rest in a chilled bowl on the side for guests to add to their individual ice-filled glasses.


That’s the recipe as written, and probably the way I would make it for a party at home, but for this particular occasion, we did things a little differently. We quadrupled the recipe and put it all in a 2 gallon cooler with spout, along with 1 whole sliced cucumber and lots of fresh mint. It’s also important to note that while I chose to use ginger ale, I also squeezed the juice of 2 fresh lemons into the cooler.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that The Pimm’s Cup was a tremendous hit. Try it out for yourself on one of these hot sunny days, and I guarantee it will become a staple of your summer entertaining.