Pimms is a staple summer drink at some of the most British of summer events. Wimbledon, the Chelsea Flower Show, polo matches, the races, the Henley Royal Regatta, graduation ceremonies and every garden party will be serving the drink that’s almost as British as a cup of tea. There’s no doubting the popularity of the drink and here at Racks it has been a staple for our summer parties for as long as we’ve existed but where exactly did this tradition come from?
Mr Pimm – the Creator.
In the 1840s a man called James Pimm, who was based in the financial district of London, invented and marketed the very first ‘Pimms’. It wasn’t just a drink though, history shows us something different for its beginnings. At the time there was a huge focus on the health benefits of drinking ‘tonics’ as well as the health properties of breathing in sea air or taking a dip into the sea to cure ailments. Pimms was invented as a health tonic. My Pimm was trying to aid the healthy lifestyle of people and his idea only grew from strength to strength.
Mr Pimm’s Tonic
The tonic was a gin-based drink that also contained a secret mix of herbs and other liquids and was used to aid digestion. Mr Pimm offered the tonic in a small tankard style cup which was known as the ‘No.1 Cup’ and so we’re sure you can see how the history of Pimms No.1 Cup began – or at least where the name came from.
The tonic’s popularity soared and in 1859 Pimm began to sell the product commercially. The product began to be drunk for pleasure as well as for health and Mr Pimm soon sold the rights to use his name and the product to a Frederick Sawyer. Further sales were made and the product was soon sold globally to match Britain’s Empire building of the time in India, Australia, the Caribbean and Canada. By 1887 there was a whole chain of Pimm’s Oyster Houses – success!
Developing the Brand
Over time Pimms branched out into new ‘cups’ to extend their range. We’ve seen Pimm’s No.2 and 3 early on in production and then soon after WWII Pimms launched cup No.4. The 1960s saw the introduction of cups No.5 and 6. Most of these cups have been phased out in favour of the original No.1 cup that we still know today but the No.3 cup has been tweaked and re-branded as a ‘Winter Cup’ and is a brandy variant of the drink that includes spices and orange-peel. It’s served now with warm apple juice and is a little like a mulled wine or cider.
The brilliant catch-phrase that we know and love brings us up to date. Not a summer goes by without many people asking if it’s Pimms O Clock yet! The drink retains its popularity and has become the quintessential British summertime drink with the Pimms Royal Cup being a firm favourite for the recent royal celebrations all over the country. The Royal Cup mixes the classic No.1 Pimms Cup with Champagne and is about as good as it gets.
Is it Pimms O Clock Yet?
Is it time that you booked in your summer Pimms party? Served by the Pitcher, ice-cold and filled with fresh fruits our Pimms drinks go down a treat on the sun-terrace. Team it with a BBQ or Hog-Roast and enjoy everything that’s British about our summertime.