Celebrate the British May bank holiday weekend by serving a refreshing Pimm’s No. 1 Cup Cocktail.
By Ruby Moukli
In Britain the first weekend in May is the May Bank Holiday Weekend. A bank holiday is a day (usually a Monday) when, as you might have guessed from the name, then banks are closed. It’s just another way of saying ‘official holiday’. Schools are closed and most people have the day off work. This particular holiday is, I believe, meant to harken the arrival of summer and it usually does coincide with the beginning of sunnier days. I say sunnier because, well, it’s the UK. Don’t expect the tropics. Unless of course you want tropical-style rain, because lately that’s what we’ve been inundated with.
Although technically in drought, this island has been water-logged for the past weeks and even we soggy Brits are starting to feel a bit saturated. My neighbours are building something in their garden, hidden under a tarpaulin, that ominously resembles an ark. Enough said. Regardless of the weather, though, the stiff upper lip prevails and you will see us out in our gardens, huddled under umbrellas, toasting the arrival of British summertime with a refreshing Pimm’s No. 1 Cup Cocktail. You see, the May Bank Holiday is also the proverbial cuckoo that announces ‘Pimm’s O’Clock’ in Britain.
If you are unfamiliar with the Pimm’s phenomenon, let me try to explain. Pimm’s No.1 Cup is a tart and fruity (and slightly alcoholic) mixer, indigenous to this island. It makes its annual debut along with the sun tan lotion, and is often applied just as generously. The exact recipe for the cordial is a closely-guarded secret, but it’s something like a fruity, herby sweet (red) vermouth. In fact, if you can’t get your hands on Pimm’s, sweet vermouth is a decent substitute.
Served ice cold, with lemonade (the British version, similar to 7-Up, not American squeezed lemons) and a slightly surprising mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, the first Pimm’s of the season is greeted with something akin to religious veneration. Luckily it’s only 50 proof so, especially when diluted with 3 parts lemonade, its the ideal tipple for long, hot (or not), weekends. Bottoms up!
- ½ cup (125 ml) Pimm's
- 1½ cups (375 ml) lemonade
- 2 cucumber spears
- 2 slices orange
- 2 slices lime
- 2 slices lemon
- ¼ apple, diced
- 2 strawberries, quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh mint
- Ice cubes to serve
- Divide your fruits, cucumber and mint between the glasses.
- Drop a couple of ice cubes into each glass.
- In a pitcher, mix the Pimm's with the lemonade.
- Pour it into the prepared glasses and serve immediately.
Curious about her British mother's seemingly bizarre love of cheese & onion sandwiches, Ruby moved to England and discovered an island full of people eating them. She now lives among them, works as a freelance writer and photographer and yes, occasionally enjoys a good cheese & onion.