Classic Pimm’s Cup

5 from 55 votes

A classic Pimm’s Cup is the ultimate refreshing cooler for summer. Garnished with fresh berries and cucumber ribbons, this gin-based cocktail is one worth knowing.

Two Pimms Cup cocktails sit next to a bottle of Pimms No. 1 liqueur.

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Classic Pimm’s Cup recipe

Summer is quickly approaching and with it, berry season.

I’m all about the berry cocktails, from the strawberry mojito to the raspberry mule.

Another one to add to the mix is the classic Pimm’s Cup, which always gets a garnish of whatever berries are in season, plus cucumber, orange and sometimes mint.

If you love tennis, you should know this cocktail because the Pimm’s Cup the official cocktail of the annual Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament — just as the mint julep is to the Kentucky Derby.

More classic cocktail recipes: HurricaneManhattanMojito

Why you’ll love this recipe

The Pimm’s Cup is a classic cocktail everyone should know, for a few great reasons:

  • It’s a flavorful, refreshing cocktail. Great for a hot summer day.
  • Customize it with any fresh berries that are in season.
  • Despite over-the-top garnishes, it is a simple recipe.

It’s a great recipe for Mardi Gras, as the cocktail’s American roots are in New Orleans. This British cocktail is also the official drink for Wimbledon.

A summer cocktail garnished with mint and cucumber sits on a white background with another behind.

What is a Pimm’s Cup?

A Pimm’s Cup is a classic cocktail made with the gin-based liqueur known as Pimm’s No. 1.

Recognized by its dark brown color and red and white label on the bottle, Pimm’s No. 1 has a spiced citrus flavor.

Both the spirit and the drink were invented by Englishman James Pimm. He created the cocktail in 1832 for his London oyster bar, and it’s been a staple of British pubs ever since.

The drink was a tonic for digestion that contained gin plus a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs as an aid to digestion. He served it in a small tankard called a “No. 1 Cup,” hence the name.

New Orleans is another place to try a Pimm’s Cup. You can order this summery drink year-round at the Napoleon House in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where the drink first became popular in the United States.

Tools & glassware

The Pimm’s Cup is usually served in a highball glass or Collins glass, which help to showcase the garnishes of berries and cucumbers.

You will also want a jigger and a bar spoon for making the drink, as well as some cocktail picks for the garnishes. A paper straw is also a common addition for sipping this cooler.

A bottle of Pimm's No. 1 on a marble countertop.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make a Pimm’s No. 1 Cup:

Pimm’s No. 1

Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based liqueur with herbal botanicals and a deep red color. It’s the original spirit for this classic drink.

Nothing compares to its unique flavors, so I wouldn’t recommend substituting anything else (unless you want to try one of the variations below.)

Lemon juice

Lemon juice balances out the deep flavors of Pimm’s liqueur.

I always recommend fresh lemon juice if you have it on hand, but feel free to use a good quality lemon concentrate.

decorative icon of citrus slices.

Tip: Room temperature citrus is easier to juice than cold, refrigerated fruit. Set your citrus fruits out on the counter for a couple hours to warm up before juicing them.

Fresh lemonade can be used instead, but I find it makes this cocktail too sweet.

I use one of these citrus squeezers to get the most juice out of my citrus fruits.

Soda

Pimm’s Cups are bubbly, effervescent cocktails, thanks to the addition of soda.

Usually ginger ale or lemon-lime soda such as 7-Up or Sprite are used. Sparkling lemonade or any other lemon soda will work too.

You could switch things up with homemade ginger ale or use club soda for a skinny version.

Aromatic Bitters

While bitters aren’t usually added to a Pimm’s Cup, they’re a nice additional kick of spice and complexity. Totally optional!

Aromatic bitters are the most common type of bitters and generally contain gentian, quassia, and wild cherry bark.

Angostura bitters is the most popular brand name of these fragrant bitters. Look for its signature oversized label.

However, many other brands are selling their own blends of aromatic bitters. Try them as often — if not more so — than Angostura. Start with the ones from Woodford Reserve or Fee Brothers.

A cucumber slice on a spear and sprig of mint sit in a Pimms Cup with strawberry slices and ice.

Garnishes

This classic cocktail has a few standard garnishes; you can’t go too overboard. The Pimm’s Cup is known for being a lavishly decorated drink, like a bouquet of flowers.

Cucumber: Fresh cucumber spears, cucumber slices or thin ribbons of cucumber on a cocktail pick — or wrapped around the glass — are all lovely ways to feature this fragrant garnish.

Berries: You can use whatever is in season, but strawberry slices are classic. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or currants will all be lovely.

Mint: A sprig or two of mint adds a bouquet of fresh aromatics, plus it’s so pretty and proper looking. Try it with other herbs like basil or thyme. (If you like to garden, consider growing a cocktail herb garden.)

Orange: An orange slice is also a classic garnish for the Pimm’s Cup. You can also use slices of other types of citrus, like lemon slices or lime slices.

An overhead view of a leafy green garnish atop a cocktail. A gold cocktail jigger sits alongside on a white background.

Substitutions

Mix up the Pimm’s Cup a few different ways:

  • Try it with different kinds of berries, depending on what’s in season.
  • Switch out the ginger ale for ginger beer for a stronger flavor.
  • Add a fancy ice cubes, such as flower ice cubes or mint ice cubes.
  • Make it lighter with a splash of simple syrup and club soda or lightly flavored sparkling water instead of soda.
  • Use strawberry lemonade instead of lemon juice for a bright flavor.
Two orange gin cocktails with ice and strawberries sit side by side on a white background. A green leafy garnish tops each glass.

Variations

If you switch up the booze, you can also switch up the name.

Historically, the Pimm’s distillery expanded their range using other spirits as bases for new “cups.” You can try making a fruit cup with any of these:

  • Pimm’s No. 2 Cup — made with scotch whisky
  • Pimm’s No. 3 Cup — made with brandy (a winter drink, served warm)
  • Pimm’s No. 4 Cup — made with dark rum (also served warm)
  • Pimm’s No. 5 Cup — made with rye whiskey
  • Pimm’s No. 6 Cup — made with vodka
  • Pimm’s No. 7 Cup — made with tequila

While these spirits have been on the market at some point, you can try them at home with these liqueurs. They might be worth a try, but the classic is made with the original Pimm’s No. 1 or any of the Pimm’s liqueurs.

Pimm’s Blackberry & Elderflower is another version that would be great in a Pimm’s Cup cocktail.

How to make a Pimm’s Cup

Making a Pimm’s Cup is pretty simple. Here’s what to do:

Pimms Liqueur is poured from a gold cocktail jigger into a glass with ice and strawberry slices.
Lemon juice is poured over ice and strawberry slices into a amber liqueur.

Fill a highball glass with ice. Top with Pimm’s and lemon juice, then stir.

Ginger ale is poured from a green can into a glass over ice and slices of strawberries.
Bubbles sit atop a cocktail filled with ice and strawberry slices.

Top with soda and a couple dashes of bitters.

Then garnish away! The garnishes are the best part. Add berries, thin slices of cucumber, an orange slice and fresh herbs.

A decorative cucumber garnish on a spear is placed into a cocktail.

Tips & tricks

Use a vegetable peeler to make thin ribbons of cucumber. You can wrap them around the inside of the glass, held in place by ice. Or you can fold them and pierce them with a cocktail pick to add on top.

Make berry ice cubes with berries frozen inside for an extra special touch.

Multiply the recipe and serve it in a pitcher for a party.

What to serve with a Pimm’s Cup

The refreshing Pimm’s Cup is delightful year-round. Try this popular drink with berry treats like chocolate-covered strawberries or blueberry cake.

As the signature cocktail of Wimbledon, the Pimm’s Cup goes well with other Wimbledon dishes. Try tea sandwiches, Gravlax crostini, quiche and strawberries and cream.

Enjoy one of these coolers with a beignet or a Po’boy for Mardi Gras.

A bottle of Pimms liqueur sits next to two cocktails.

FAQ

What is in a Pimm’s Cup?

A Pimm’s Cup is a cocktail made with Pimm’s No. 1, which is an herbal gin-based liqueur, plus lemon juice and either ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. It’s topped with a bouquet of garnishes, including cucumber ribbons, fresh berries, orange wedges and/or a mint sprig or other fresh herbs.

What kind of alcohol is Pimm’s?

Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based liqueur with lots of herbal, spiced and citrusy flavor.

Can you drink Pimm’s straight?

This gin-based liqueur was originally invented as a tonic to aid digestion. However, Pimm’s No. 1 mixes beautifully with lemonade.

More classic cocktails

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Two Pimms Cup cocktails sit next to a bottle of Pimms No. 1 liqueur.

Pimm’s No. 1 Cup

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
The delightfully bubbly Pimm's Cup is the perfect refreshing drink for summer. Make the garnishes as fancy as you like!
5 from 55 votes
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 6 ounces ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • cucumber ribbon or cucumber spear, for garnish
  • strawberries or other fresh berries, for garnish
  • sprigs of mint for garnish

instructions

  • Fill a highball glass with ice. Top with Pimm’s and lemon juice, then stir.
  • Top with soda and a couple of dashes of bitters.
  • Garnish with cucumber, fresh berries, orange slices and fresh mint.

notes

Mix up the Pimm’s Cup a few different ways:
  • Try it with different kinds of berries, depending on what’s in season.
  • Switch out the ginger ale for ginger beer for a stronger flavor.
  • Add fancy ice cubes, such as flower ice cubes or mint ice cubes.
  • Make it lighter with a splash of simple syrup and club soda or lightly flavored sparkling water instead of soda.
  • Use strawberry lemonade instead of lemon juice for a bright flavor.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 8ounces Calories: 201kcal Carbohydrates: 17g Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.03g Saturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 13mg Potassium: 17mg Fiber: 0.04g Sugar: 16g Vitamin A: 1IU Vitamin C: 5mg Calcium: 6mg Iron: 0.3mg
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