Sunday Treat – The Long Hot Summer Means Time for A “Fruit Cup”!

sundae2No, no, when I say it’s time for a “fruit cup” I’m not talking about a little container of grapes and cherries and stuff. I am talking about the British idea of a fruit cup! As Wikipedia explains:

“A fruit cup, also known as a summer cup, is traditionally an English speciality drink designed to be made into a “long drink” [an alcoholic mixed drink with a relatively large volume] with addition of a soft drink such as lemonade or ginger ale. Most commonly, these are gin-based, although there are some varieties based on other spirits such as vodka. The base gin is flavored with various herbs, spices, fruit, and botanicals as well as its strength reduced.”


I got to know what “fruit cups” were by virtue of accidentally tasting a Pimm’s fruit cup, which was so wonderful I wanted to know more about it. Specifically, I wanted to know: what is Pimm’s anyway? It turns out, after looking it up, I still have no idea!

Pimm, a farmer’s son in England, opened a bar in the City of London in 1823, across from Buckingham Palace and the Bank of England, two great places for potential customers! He started mixing a tonic (a gin-based drink containing a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs) as an aid to digestion, serving it in a small tankard known as a “No. 1 Cup” – hence its subsequent name.

James Pimm

James Pimm

By the 1860s, Pimm’s was bottled. It is now produced by Diageo, a large company based in London whose other brands include Smirnoff (the world’s best-selling vodka), Johnnie Walker (the world’s best-selling blended Scotch whisky), Baileys (the world’s best-selling liqueur) and Guinness (the world’s best-selling stout). It is also the exclusive international distributor of José Cuervo (the world’s best-selling tequila). They seem to know their alcohol! (“Diageo” is an invented name composed of the Latin word “dias”, meaning day, and the Greek root “geo”, meaning world, and is meant to reference the company giving pleasure every day, everywhere.)


Pimm’s contains 25% alcohol (50-proof). Most spirits sold today contain 40% alcohol (80-proof), so Pimm’s is a relatively low-alcohol drink. Most commonly, it is mixed with lemonade or a soda like Sprite or Ginger Ale as well as fresh ingredients like cucumber and mint.

In a very humorous article on Pimm’s in “The Wall Street Journal,” the author wrote:

I HAVE NOT BEEN totally honest with my husband regarding my stance on the Pimm’s Cup. He is an Englishman, and to him, this fruity, boozy beverage summons a very particular set of sense-memories: lounging on riverbanks and playing lawn games on those two or three bathwater-warm evenings each year that the English refer to as “summer.” To these people, Pimm’s is sangria and margaritas and caipirinhas all rolled into one, the warm-weather drink to rule them all. To me, it tastes like Skittles dissolved in gin.”

Well, yes, precisely why I like it. Plus, if you get it with cucumbers, you can call it “salad.”

The “New York Times” has also been writing about Pimm’s noting that it is “consumed in ungodly amounts every year at Wimbledon.”

The simplest way to prepare it is to mix up Pimm’s, lemonade and 7Up, and top with a cucumber slice. Or you can consult a more official-looking recipe here, which provides precise amounts, and recommends you pair your Pimm’s Cocktail with a good book. Sounds perfect!



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20 Responses to Sunday Treat – The Long Hot Summer Means Time for A “Fruit Cup”!

  1. sandynawrot says:

    It sounds like the perfect summer drink! I have never had one, which is shocking I know. After this post and Caite’s yesterday, I’ve decided the next time I see it on a menu I’m going to try it.

  2. Beth F says:

    I always have bottle of Pimms in my cabinet. As I said over at Caite’s yesterday, when I lived in the UK there were definitely two camps: the peach/nectarine people and the cucumber people. Sometimes I’d see it with citrus.

  3. That last photo sure looks inviting!

  4. The photo with the strawberry and oranges looks yummy. I’d be on the ground in hot weather after a few of those… that is a “fruit cup”.

  5. Barbara says:

    I never know what I’ll learn in one of your blog posts! You are a hoot, Jill.

  6. That looks so refreshing!!

  7. Yum! I had Pimms cocktails a lot when I went to London in college and fell in love with them. I haven’t had much luck finding it in the US, but that must be changing of the NYT is writing about it. I am going to be on the lookout!

  8. litandlife says:

    Nom – I do believe you’ve convinced me to buy some Pimm’s!

  9. Cipriano says:

    I’ve rarely seen anything that looks more refreshing than those dang fruit cups. I WANT ONE!

  10. Iris says:

    I have been wondering what “Pimm’s” is, and I’m glad to know now! Plus, fruit in a drink? That absolutely works for me!

  11. Care says:

    I love Pimm’s! I admit, it is Nabokov’s Lolita that had me search for it but a friend made it for a party and then I was hooked.

  12. now where did I just read about a Pimms Cup…oh yes, on my post! great minds…lol

  13. Ti says:

    I wrote about PImm’s cup about two years ago. I could drink it from the bottle, I love it so much.

  14. Tina says:

    I have never had Pimms. Sounds great…must try it. We had a cocktail time last evening but I opted for plain old cranberry and vodka 🙂

  15. Alex Baugh says:

    WOW, I haven’t had a Pimm’s Cup in years but I used to love it. Thanks for sharing the history on this drink. I hever had heard it before. I may have to pick up a bottle of Pimm’s today in preparation for our next hot spell next week.

  16. Carole says:

    I’m definitely going to get some Pimms for next summer. Cheers

  17. Vicki says:

    I don’t drink, so I wonder how this would be without the Primms?

  18. Laurie C says:

    Yum. Skittles and gin sounds pretty good to me! I just had my first caipirinha at a Brazilian steakhouse last night. I still can’t pronounce it, but managed to order a second one by holding up the empty glass!

  19. I enjoyed your informative post and I can’t believe I’ve never had a Pimm’s Cup; I must correct this at once.

  20. bookingmama says:

    Sounds quite refreshing. I almost tried a similar drink a few weekends ago when I was at pub in DC.

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