I have a friend in Los Angeles who, one day after noticing a cocktail photo I had posted on Instagram, hashtagged “#drinkswithsnacks.” Perhaps it’s my affinity for food, but I love a good cocktail that comes with a snack. This recipe, a classic Pimm’s Cup, is the ultimate fruit salad in drink form. And what’s especially great about this drink, aside from its aesthetic appeal, is that it’s entirely customizable with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. Toss in some berries, grapes, or even cubed watermelon. Just don’t forget the cucumber!
Pimm’s is an English herbal aperitif originally released in the mid-nineteenth century. There are actually six Pimm’s formulas, each based on a different spirit and flavors, which is where the “No.1” comes into play. The first of the Pimm’s—No. 1, appropriately—is based on gin and imbued with fruit peels and herbs like bitter quinine (the same flavoring used in tonic). Naren Young’s take on the cocktail features an unusual star anise tincture. You don’t have to make the tincture, but it adds an intriguing, ineffable spice. And it’s very easy to make—you just need to plan ahead.
From Naren Young of Dante, New York City
1½ ounces Pimm’s No.1
½ ounce floral gin, such as Hendrick’s
½ ounce dry curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
5 drops Star Anise Tincture (recipe follows; optional)
About 2 ounces ginger beer, such as Fever-Tree, chilled
Thinly sliced cucumbers, mint sprigs, and assorted fresh fruit and veggies, such as raspberries, currants, and watermelon radish for garnish
Combine the Pimm’s, gin, curaçao, lemon juice, and star anise tincture (if using) in a wineglass and stir to blend. Top with ginger beer. Garnish frivolously with seasonal fresh fruit and springs of mint. Cucumber is a must!
Star Anise Tincture
Makes 6 ounces
6 ounces vodka
5 or 6 star anise pods
Place the vodka in a glass jar or bottle, add the anise pods, and steep for 5 days. Strain out the anise pods and use a funnel to pour the tincture into a small bottle. Use an eye dropper for easy measuring. The tincture will keep, covered in a cool, dry, dark place, indefinitely.
• Sub in a splash of Champagne or sparkling wine for the ginger beer to make a Pimm’s Royale.
• Naren says that during colder months he swaps a smoky Scotch for the gin to make a winter-friendly Pimm’s Cup.
Excerpted from Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz by Kat Odell. Copyright © 2017. Photography by © Nicole Franzen. Used with permission of Workman Publishing. Day Drinking is available May 16, 2017 where books are sold.
This original article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.