Summers in England (both New and Regular) can be blisteringly hot, not Texas hot, but warm nonetheless. Old buildings, lots of concrete, little to no air conditioning (have you been on the Subway yet?) and a bunch of grouchy Northerners make summertime kinda crappy. But everything is made bearable with ample pitchers of Pimm’s Cups.
Like an English Sangria, Pimm’s Cup is a classic British drink that mixes the refreshing effervescence of gingerale, fresh fruit, and a hit of gin-like Pimm’s No. 1 Cup liquor. Served at Wimbledon, rowing parades, royal births, and many other less important events, Pimm’s Cups are one of the only reasons to do anything this summer.
I learned the power of Pimm’s Cups when I first studied abroad in Oxford. All the other kids were a bit older and a bit more experienced with ordering drinks and looking cool at the bar; and then there was me, barely 18 and deep in REM after a single glass of red. I didn’t (still don’t) really like beer (especially served warm) and didn’t know enough about native British wines, so I found myself drinking lots of seltzers with lime and pretending to be cool as an English cucumber. That’s when I found Pimm’s. A group of us went to a small beergarden located behind one of the special literary pubs on the vast Oxford campus. All the posh, seersucker-clad English folk were sipping these tall skinny glasses of what looked like weak iced tea with a medley of fresh fruit on the rim. My Texas tea-radar immediately kicked in and I ordered one without really inquiring as to its contents. Well, it doesn’t taste anything like iced tea, but damn if it wasn’t refreshing as a punt on the Isis (that awkward phrase refers to taking a leisurely row on the local river there in Oxfordshire). I had found my drink, and I vowed to never leave England right then and there.
But, I had to come back (since I was barely 18 and all) and went on a hunt to find Pimm’s No. 1 Cup in Texas. I did find it, but at the time I was underage in the state of Texas and had a few more years till I could legally pretend I was a fancy Brit sipping cocktails after the Derby. Now that I am of age, Pimm’s Cups are my go-to beverage for all occasions and outings. And, what better way to enjoy them during this steamy New England summer than in popsicle form.
The key to these pops is fresh fruit and fresh lemon juice. Since alcohol doesn’t freeze, I did some math work to figure out the correct ratio of alcohol. I found that a 20% alcohol to 80% other liquid creates a nice, smooth popsicle while still retaining that distinct herby flavor of Pimm’s No. 1. Now, go clean out your freezer. You’re going to want a triple batch of these.
makes 8 small pops
2 1/2 cups gingerale
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3-4 strawberries, thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
1-2 small clementines or other small thin-rind orange, thinly sliced into rounds
8 small paper or plastic cups (the kind you find at watercoolers)
8 wooden sticks
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine gingerale, Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, and lemon juice.
2. On a small baking sheet or cake tin, set out paper cups and fill each (3/4 of the way up the side of the cup) with liquid mix.
3. In each cup place a few slices of strawberry and cucumber and a single slice of clementine (which should float at the top).
4. Carefully move the baking sheet to a flat space in the freezer. Once the pops have frozen to a slushy state, remove the baking sheet from the freezer and carefully cover the tops of the cups with a single piece of plastic wrap. Carefully poke a single wooden stick into each cup (use a small knife to start a hole if need be), the plastic wrap should help keep the sticks up straight. Return to freezer till the pops are frozen solid.
Note: To remove pops from cups, make a small cut on the rim of the cup on top of the seam. Start to tear at the cut and the pop should, well, pop out.
Pinkies up, ladies and gentlemen.