I’m back from a fabulous vacation in England. My friend Christie and I walked through the Cotswolds, stopping at B&Bs each night in storybook villages built of golden stone. We spent a little time in Oxford too, and finished up in London with a whirlwind of sightseeing and shopping
Right now, I’m in that sweet spot between jet lag and my normal sleep schedule– that place between the exhaustion of travel and the daily fatigue of work, between the excitement of new experiences and the comforts of home. I’m still stepping over a suitcase abandoned just inside the back door, spewing dirty laundry. It’s good to be back, to call up friends for dinner dates and go to yoga class and sleep in my own bed with my cat wedged under my chin.
There’s a lot to tell, about what we ate and drank and saw and did and thought about it all.
But what I really want to talk about first is Pimm’s. Little did I know there was such a perfect summer drink out there, just waiting for me to find it. Waiting for me at the Eagle & Child pub in Oxford, to be exact.
After finishing our five day, 50 mile walk, we caught a train to Oxford and settled into rooms at Balliol College. We only had a short time to wander the venerable city, eyes wide, and absorb the beauty of those dreaming spires. We went on a punt ride on the Thames, and I felt the shades of literary characters I have loved, riding along with us as we floated through still green water, dappled and shaded by overhanging trees.
Soon enough, we fetched up in the Rabbit Room of the Eagle & Child Pub, famous as a meeting place for The Inklings, a literary group that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The weather was warm. We saw other people ordering Pimm’s and Lemonade, which came in tall, sweaty glasses crammed with ice, fruit, cucumber slices, and a straw. So we jumped, enthusiastically, on the Pimm’s band wagon.
Sitting under a photo of C.S. Lewis in the dim wood paneled pub, we sipped those tall, cool drinks. And sipped some more, and smiled, then giggled. What was in this stuff? Who knew? It was lovely–refreshing and deceptively easy to drink. A little lemony, mildly fizzy, with a slight bitter edge that prevented it from being cloying.
Of course, we had to have more Pimm’s in London, as the weather grew even warmer.
After a little research, I’ve learned some things about Pimm’s besides the fact that it is delicious. First, I was astonished to find out that it is gin-based. Good news! Apparently, twenty-some years after what we will refer to only as “the incident”, I can once again tolerate the taste of gin without throwing up immediately. Second, it seems that when the English refer to lemonade in this context, it is really something a little fizzier. Also, there are several varieties of Pimm’s, but only Pimm’s No. 1, the gin-based variety used in Pimm’s Cups, is commonly available in the US. Finally, I learned that there are many variations on the theme, but the basic recipe for Pimm’s and Lemonade, more formally known as a Pimm’s Cup, is as follows:
- Slice of: lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, strawberry
- Sprig of mint
- 3 parts Lemonade
- 1 part Pimm’s No.1
- Serve over ice in a highball glass.
I think ginger-ale would also be nice, or lemonade mixed with club soda, or maybe even Sprite in a pinch. More research is clearly indicated.
But the most important thing I have to say on the subject is this: I urge you to mix up a glass, or maybe even a pitcher, of Pimm’s and Lemonade. Take it out on the patio on a warm evening and settle into a lawn chair, or a hammock if one is available. Put your feet up and enjoy.