Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Pimms Phenomenon

Aside from beer being a massive part of bar culture in the UK, another popular drink which seems to be featured in almost every bar is Pimms. Every place we went into offers the traditional Pimms & Lemonade or the other option, the Pimms Jug, which is perfect to share with friends.

Pimms started in 1823 by James Pimm. His father owned a bar in the centre of London, called the Oyster Bar. Originally Pimms was drink to help aid digestion. It was a gin based spirit with a secret recipe of herbs. It soon began to become quite popular as a drink as well as a means to help digestion. In 1851, Pimms began mass production to keep up with the demand from bars in London. In 1865, James Pimm sold the rights to his drink and it was franchised throughout the UK. Other flavours of Pimms were created using different herbs and spirits but none of them managed to take off. From the 1960's the other Pimms recipes were phased out and the James Pimm original recipe remained still the most popular.

Something that I noticed when ordering this drink and witnessing other people order a Pimms and lemonade, is that it is served in a particular way. It's not as simple as a nip of Pimms and topped up with lemonade. This drink requires specific fruits and ingredients to bring out the flavour in the Pimms. Lime, lemons, cucumber, raspberries, strawberries and sometimes even mint are thrown into the drink turning it from a simple mix drink, into a 'fruit-punch' type cocktail.

This concoction was quite nice. It's fruity and refreshing, a perfect summer drink. But I don't think that's why it's so popular in the UK. Pimms is sold all over the world, but it's no where near as popular as it is in the UK. I had to get to the bottom of why the brit's love Pimms so much. I mentioned when I visited Fuller's Brewery, that the english are very proud of there traditional english beer, hence why it's so popular. I get the feeling that it's the same with Pimms. Because Pimms is made in England it seems like the people here are very proud of drinking a product which they can call there own. Or it might be the fact that's it's very cheap to buy and in a city like London which is expensive to live, a cheap drinking option certainly would have a huge influence in it's popularity.

I'm excited to have a play around with this spirit in some new cocktail ideas. I think it has definite potencial for it to work well together with other spirits and liqueurs. Like traditional english beer, it might be a little while before I start drinking Pimms on a regular occurrence, but as me and Cara begin to settle in to life in England, I can see that it could be something we could be drinking again over the english summer.

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