Have you heard of a Pimm’s Cup? It’s not a well-known drink in the U.S. I love it and a refreshing Pimm’s Cup always brings thought of New Orleans.
So let me tell you a story about New Orleans and the Pimm’s Cup. I think you’ll like it.
It’s just past the middle of August. Most of you are thinking, “thank goodness, the kids are back in school” or “dear God, when are these kids going to start school?” I know, I’ve been there, done that.
Sweet Shark and I think a bit differently in the middle of August. This is when Sweet Shark starts checking out hotel deals and airline schedules. Where are we going? To New Orleans. For our annual after~Christmas~before~New Year’s vacation.
We were commiserating (sorry, but I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence.) What I meant was, we are chatting about the dates and did we want to stay someplace new. Then we started reminiscing and that led down memory lane to our favorite spots (I’ve shared those with you before.) and then we started talking about Pimm’s Cup.
Not a place, a drink. One of my favorites. It’s what I always have when we stop in at Napoleon’s House (If you are a long~time reader, you may remember last year I had a “little” (I’m being facetious ~ it was huge!) incident that I shared last January.
But I digress. Back to the Pimm’s Cup. It’s a stand~by drink in New Orleans, especially at Napoleon’s. Here’s a little history.
The house, which is at the corner of St. Louis and Chartre, was owned by a former mayor of New Orleans who had grandiose dreams of liberating Napoleon from the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic, where he was being held by the British, and bringing him to New Orleans. Alas, Napoleon died before the plot was begun, but the name of the house stuck, forever known as Napoleon’s House. It’s been a grocery store, but a restaurant and bar since the 1940’s.
Now to the Pimm’s Cup drink.
Ironically, in a city that is predominantly grounded in French culture, cuisine and history, the drink is thoroughly British.
What margaritas are to Mexico, Mojitos to Cuba, and Mint Juleps to Americans, the Pimm’s Cup is to the British. Pimm’s No. 1 is the main ingredient, a gin~based, low~alcohol liquor with a taste of citrus fruits and spice, created in the 1840’s in London. I like it because it’s refreshing, not sweet, and has a bit of fizz. It is ALWAYS garnished with a cucumber slice. Sweet Shark avoids cucumbers at all costs, but I like them in moderation (this drink and gazpacho) for their crisp, fresh taste.
Remember to always use fresh lemons and limes. Even a few days old can create an off taste in a drink. Your cucumber should also be super fresh. Old cucumbers can develop a bitter taste. After slicing a cucumber, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and it will last for several days.
This first version is the one from Napoleon House.
Pimm’s Cup Version #1
Pimm’s Cup Version #2
Some recipes call for carbonated lemonade or European lemonade. We love the Organic Italian Soda, Sicilian Lemon Flavor that is available at Central Market. I drink it all the time when I’m out of iced tea. Whole Foods has a version too. Sweet Shark thought it would be interesting to try it instead of the 7~up or Sprite. We like to serve the Pimm’s Cup in a tall highball glass, like a collins glass.
After you are served a Pimm’s Cup, remove the cucumber slice from the rim of the glass and drop it into the drink. It really adds a fresh taste to the cocktail.
So, which version was better? We did a blind tasting ~ I closed my eyes and Sweet Shark handed me the glass. The taste was very similar, but the Italian Soda had more effervescence to it ~ more fizz ~ which I liked. We kept trading back and forth between the 2 versions and eventually, we couldn’t tell them apart (Wonder why?). We decided that when we have the Italian Soda on hand, we’ll go with that and if we don’t have any in the fridge, the 7~up or Sprite version will work just fine.
Pimm’s is available at any liquor store and it’s not expensive. Stock your home bar with it for a change of pace cocktail.
Cheers and Happy Weekend.