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The History Of Pimm's - Britain's Favourite Summer Drink

Thu 15 Jun 2017

Crack open the Pimm’s and welcome in the Great British Summer. This ice-cold drink is the perfect partner to a sun-drenched occasion, be it a barbecue, a naughty tipple at an al fresco brunch or at one of the UK’s summer sporting events.

Wimbledon, The Chelsea Flower Show, Polo in the Park, Royal Ascot, The Henley Royal Regatta and every jolly good garden party will be serving the drink that is as quintessentially British as a strong cup of tea.

The Pimm’s we cherish today was first created in 1823 by a Mr James Pimm, an oyster bar owner based in London. The 200-year-old formula was a gin-based elixir laced with bitter and spiced botanicals and served as a type of highball known as a ‘summer cup’.

At the time Pimm’s was considered a health drink and seamlessly fitted into the growing healthy lifestyle trend which meant demand for the drink soared. Moreish, bittersweet and thirst quenching, this elixir is topped with lemonade and ginger beer and garnished with cucumber, orange and strawberry to give you the refreshing, fruity, fizzing glass we adore. A sprig of mint is then added for a bit of kitsch flair.

Around the late 1800s, the product began to be consumed for pleasure, as well as for health, and Mr Pimm soon sold the rights to use his name and the product to a gentleman called Frederick Sawyer. Further sales were made and the product was soon sold globally to match Britain’s Empire building of the time in India, Australia, the Caribbean and Canada. By 1887 there was a whole chain of Pimm’s Oyster Houses, demonstrating the popularity the drink had garnered.

The liqueur was eventually branded as Pimm’s No. 1. This is because over the years, Pimm’s Nos. 2 through 6 were developed, with each liqueur being based on a different spirit including; scotch, brandy, rum, rye and vodka.

The brilliant catch-phrase that we know and love brings us up to date. Not a summer goes by without many people asking if it’s ‘Pimm’s O Clock’ yet! The drink retains its popularity and has become the nation’s chosen summertime drink, with the Pimm’s Royal Cup being a firm favourite for the recent royal celebrations all over the country. The Royal Cup mixes the classic No.1 Pimm’s Cup with Champagne and is about as good as it gets. Cheers to that.

To see our mouth-watering Pimm's recipe from Smart Group's head of bars, click here.

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