This early summer heat has left me wilted and without much of an appetite for aught but cold salads and homemade fruit smoothies. However, it brought out a special request in my husband, “I want Hawaii in a cocktail,” he announced the other night when the temp was still hovering above 75° after 7:00. Knowing them to be a fabulous place for cocktails — both seasonal and inventive standbys made with the highest quality ingredients — we betook ourselves to Nopa on Divisadero and Hayes and cooled off with their Mumbai Iced Tea. A heat-beating concoction of gin, vodka, tequila, tamarind syrup, rhum orange, the tropical cocktail is topped off with spicy ginger beer and garnished with a sprig of mint.

We paired a few of these with a some cold salads and sides — their toasted barley and pea shoot side is served at room temp and is simply delectable — sat back, and decided the heat wasn’t so bad after all.

That brings me to my traditional summer cocktail: Pimm’s Cup. Last year, Sam of Becks and Posh beat me to the posting punch, but as she’s actually British and I just wish I was, I guess I’ll forgive her. This time.

As Sam noted, normally a proper Pimm’s Cup has to be mixed with Sprite or 7-Up to approximate what you get with British lemonade. However, I’ve finally managed to dig up authentic British lemonade at Andronico’s. It’s made by Belvoir and the same company also has an elderflower pressé and a British ginger beer so spicy it stings going down. Refreshing in Pimm’s Cup, that sort of ginger beer is also wicked important when making the definitive Dark and Stormy.

What do I think Pimm’s tastes like? Curry. Definitely. I’ve always maintained that there’s an elusive curry flavor that overrides — but doesn’t overpower — all others. For me, anyway. Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that, so “herbal” might be a better descriptor. Whatever you call it, there’s no debating that Pimm’s Cup is one of the best summer refreshers.

Pimm’s Cup of Joy

3 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
4 or 5 mint leaves
2 fresh strawberries, halved
1 slice of cucumber
Lime quarter
Sprite, 7-Up, British lemonade, or ginger beer

The Shake:

In a tall glass, add Pimm’s and mint leaves. Use a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon to crush the mint leaves a bit. Toss in the strawberries, cucumber, and lime quarter with some ice cubes and fill the rest of the glass with your desired mixer.

Summer Tipple 10 May,2007Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Maureen

    I love Pimm’s cup (#1)…but mix mine with Schweppe’s bitter lemon and lots of ice. Best summer drink!

    Has anyone ever tried the other Pimm’s flavors #2-5? What are the best mixes for those?

  • Fatemeh

    I do believe that we nailed the source of that elusive Pimm’s flavor tonight: Fenugreek.

    It’s the stuff that brings garam masala up a notch, and gives ghormeh sabzi it’s distinct bite.

  • Sam

    how’s about I employ you as my in house ccocktail shaker? That was a great Pimms you made me last night. Perfect!
    thank you!

  • Catherine Nash

    Mmm, I adore Pimm’s cups, especially the version you made me last night with ginger beer. That stuff is seriously addictive!

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    Maureen: We’ve also tried the bitter lemon idea but it just wasn’t the flavor we wanted with it. I don’t hear much about the other Pimm’s flavors. I thought they failed miserably on the market — being based on vodka, bourbon, and whisky (?), rather than gin as Pimm’s No. 1 is — and weren’t available. I’d guess the best mixes are those that do well with the based alcohol.

    Sam: Aw, thanks! I will happily perform the task whenever you like.

    Cat: Thank you! Although, I do agree with you about drinking a tall glass of ginger beer. I does become a bit much after awhile. Shorter glasses for that or less ginger beer might be the ticket.

  • Stinson Gal

    I want to serve Pimm’s Cups at my party … but what type of food do you think goes well with it. I need to have a lot of hors-d’oeuvres…

  • Stinson Gal

    What type of food goes best with Pimm’s Cups?


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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