Some traditions are resolutely seasonal. Despite the UK’s wholly unreliable weather patterns, there’s a handful of rituals that fall squarely inside the end-of-May-till-beginning-of-September window – we’re thinking picnics in the park, barbecues, grass court tennis, Robinson’s Barley Water and cocktails that are 75 percent fruit salad.
While it’s theoretically possible to assemble a bowl of strawberries and cream on Halloween, thanks to the availability of air-freighted groceries, no-one with even a passing appreciation of soft fruit would recommend it.
Looking after No. 1
Same goes for sitting in your local beer garden with a frosted jug of fruit cup. Millions of glasses of Pimm’s are imbibed every summer (more than a quarter-of-a-million glasses of the stuff are sold at the All England Club alone over the Wimbledon fortnight), but ask for a Pimm’s and lemonade in February and the bartender will assume you’ve taken leave of your senses.
Not that Pimm’s was always such a summer-specific tipple. Pimm’s No. 1* - the original gin-based digestif – can be traced back to London in the 1800s, reputedly the brainchild of James Pimm, then owner of the eponymous Pimm’s Oyster Bar on Lombard Street.
It was common for bars during this period to sell quaffable ‘cups’ made from a proprietary house blend of spirits, liqueurs and juices and served in No. 1 size pewter tankards. They were also often marketed as an aid to digestion (yes, that old chestnut – see almost every other spirit in the history of mankind).
Pimm’s was the first fruit cup to be taken to a wider audience – though not by its creator.
This accolade went to prominent wine merchant – and, later, Lord Mayor of London – Sir Horatio Davies who acquired the bar in the 1880s. Davies turned Pimm’s into a private company and used his many society connections to create a ready-made market for his ready-to-drink cocktail.
Pimm’s soon found a global market, especially in hotter climates where long, icy, lower-ABV drinks offer a cooling alternative to more spirit-forward options.
One of Pimm’s biggest selling points is that it simplifies the task of making an impressive cocktail at home – just pour over a jug of ice, top it up with lemonade (or ginger ale), orange slices, strawberries and cucumber, and you’re good to go.
A jug of any kind of punch, cup or cocktail is a good call for summer parties.
If you have white rum, a bag of limes, sugar, sparkling water and a bunch of mint, for instance, you can knock up a refreshing pitcher of Mojito. Alternatively, blend a bottle of fruity rosé wine with a slug of Grand Marnier, a splash of orange juice and some slices of peach or nectarine before topping with sparkling water and you have an instant, super-summery sangria.
If you’d like to flirt with a variation on a bona fide cocktail classic, you won’t go far wrong with a Strawberry Daiquiri. A delicately fragrant adaptation of the Cuban rum-lime-and-sugar original, it successfully captures the quintessential flavour of sweet summer fruit in an irresistible cocktail combo.
At Edmunds, we pair the finest Suffolk Distillery white rum with strawberry liqueur and strawberry puree, together with a splash of lime juice and a dash of sugar syrup. Simply shake it with ice, pour into a Martini glass and garnish with whole fruit. Summer entertaining, sorted!
*Pimm’s No. 1 is the original gin-based drink invented by James Pimm in 1840 but you may not know that the company also produced cups numbered from 2 to 6, based, respectively, on whisky, brandy, rum, rye and vodka. None of No. 1’s siblings survive today, although Pimm’s Vodka Cup is a loosely reimagined No. 6 and a new product, Pimm's Winter Cup, launched in the early 2000s, is a variant of brandy-based No. 3.