This week has been all about relaxing, winding down and taking time out. And there seemed no more appropriate way celebrate it than with a cocktail. Camparigirl is on her way up the coast to Oregon and the beach, and I have a nephew- and niece-free weekend ahead, with rain forecast. So we decided to go seasonal and offer something to sip on, wherever the weather finds you. Of course, if you are in the UK – both will work admirably. Cheers m’dears! camparigirl: Apologies to our English readers who will find this cocktail recipe a waste of their time but I feel the need to set the record straight for all the American bartenders who have ruined my favourite Summer drink: the Pimm’s Cup.
Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based liqueur which is as English as they come, and a staple thirst quencher since 1823 during the (usually rainy) English Summer. No Wimbledon or Henley Regatta would be complete without a glass of Pimm’s. I fell in love with it when I first moved to England and there is always a bottle of it at my house, right next to the Campari.
Lately, Pimm’s has been making an appearance on many an American drink menu and you would think that would make me happy. Wrong. If in England every dingy pub will serve you a perfectly prepared Pimm’s (maybe with fewer trimmings), here bartenders think the more liqueur in it, the better. Not so.
Much to everyone’s annoyance – bartender, waiter and my friends – whenever I order a Pimm’s Cup in LA I give very detailed instructions on how it should be made: with lemonade and not ginger ale; in a tall glass and not a whisky tumbler; and a 3 to 1 ration lemonade to Pimm’s and not vice versa.
When we used to entertain at our dismal London flat, sofagirl liked to prepare it in a large bowl, fruit punch style, with the cucumber and the fruit left to macerate, adding to the already spicy and fruity taste of Pimm’s. If you have never tried it before, you are in for a treat. If you are sitting in rainy England, have a Pimm’s and trust the sun will be back, just in time for Wimbledon. Maybe.
This recipe is straight from the horse’s mouth – Pimm’s official website
- 1 part Pimm’s No.1
- 3 parts cold lemonade (in the States that translates to Sprite or SevenUp)
- 1 sprig of mint, a slice of orange, a slice of cucumber and a strawberry for each serving
- Combine and pour over ice in a tall glass. Stir and drink up.
Can be prepared in a large pitcher for multiple servings
PS: In the car, along with the dogs, suitcases, all my electronics, the coffee grinder and my favourite mug …goes my bottle of No.1 – I have a sneaky suspicion Oregonians are not big on Pimm’s. But I am determined to sip one, sitting on the deck of my little house on the river, while the sun goes down. Stay tuned for updates.
sofagirl: Mulled wine is another thing we owe the Romans a big “Grazie” for. They took their wine with them as they set out to conquer the world – adding spices and warming it when they hit the frozen climes up north. Everybody followed suit: Mrs Beeton featured a version in her cookbook, we all know Gluhwein, the Nordics drink Glogg – which they potently enrich with a vodka and port. And in Scotland – where the only summer heat is under their kilts – they warm their scotch. Attire and idea, undoubtedly inspired by the Italians.
Molto Aromatico Mulled Vino
- Two 750-milliliter bottles (or the equivalent) fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel or Merlot (I had a couple of opened half-bottles of wine hanging around after tastings for Knead. They were both of a similar fruity, merlot-ish persuasion – so I mixed them in together to get my one full bottle.)
- Zest strips from 1 orange
- 100g/1/2 cup muscovado sugar or other dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 2 balls of allspice, gently dented
- The aromatics: Put the peppercorns, fennel seeds,allspice and cinnamon in a large tea ball or wrap them in cheesecloth and secure them with kitchen string. Or – if you are me, impatient, and have none of those to hand – toss them straight into the wine.
- In a large saucepan, combine the aromatics with the wine, bay leaves and orange zest.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Don’t boil or you will cook off the alcohol – and then what’s the point?
- Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. This allows all the flavours to infuse.
- Remove the aromatics and orange zest (but reserve the latter to pop into your glasses). If you haven’t used a tea ball or cheesecloth wrap – sieve the wine through a fine mesh sieve to remove the aromatics.
- Stir in the sugar until dissolved, reheating gently but again, don’t boil
Serve warm, in glasses or mugs.
Note – Once cooled, the mulled wine can be poured into a pitcher or clean glass bottle, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently when some sofa time is needed. I drank mine (immediately) out of an earthenware beaker from Morocco, a gift from my pal Maurits. And watched two episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” back-to-back. The wine was had a lovely spiced, peppery treacle taste to it. Heaven.
(Thanks to Marcia Kiesel at Food and Wine for the inspiration. This post was not sponsored by Pimm’s or anyone else for that matter.)