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A modern bottle of Pimm's No. 1 CupConsidering that Pimm’s is a quintessentially English drink, it is amazing how often it is so poorly prepared.

Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based ‘tonic’, which James Pimm originally devised in the 19th century to aid digestion. It was served in tankards, which, when containing the beverage, were known as No. 1 cups.

The main problem with many Pimm’s preparations is the gross sweetness of the lemonade (Seven-Up or Sprite equivalent for my American readers).

The other is not following the recipe instructions.

Before getting to the secret of the perfect Pimm’s, my first experience with the drink was a disaster. In the mid-1980s I spent a holiday with a French friend in Paris who put way too much Pimm’s in the glass then topped it up with a tiny amount of lemonade. I can remember it clearly, even now.

Later, during my first summer in England, SpouseMouse said, ‘It’s warm enough for Pimm’s. Shall I make some?’

‘Bleuugh’, I replied.

Yet, I tried it and still think it is the best summer drink ever — but only when prepared at home.

Recently, we went out to lunch with a couple who thought having Pimm’s as an aperitif would be delightful. SpouseMouse and I looked at each other but decided, as they were our guests, to order a pitcher. It was just as dire and sweet as we’d expected, although they loved it.

Here are the secrets for making the best Pimm’s. It doesn’t necessarily match the official recipe, but it is marvellous:

1/ Add an extra jigger of gin to the requisite amount of Pimm’s No. 1 in the jug. Many Pimm’s preparations are often watery. This is why. Adding gin helps maintain the integrity of the drink.

2/ Make sure you put several cucumber slices in the jug as well as in the glasses. Mint is a near-essential ingredient in both the jug and the glass. You can get by without it, though, if you have cucumber.

3/ Try to put the same amount of fruit in the jug every time for a more consistent flavour profile.

4/ Most importantly, use cloudy lemonade. For my American readers, the closest approximation is Squirt.

The usual alcohol warnings apply. You know what they are.

In closing, one jug of Pimm’s should serve six people. We fill the glasses up with fruit, mint and cucumber nearly one-third of the way before pouring which ensures everyone has a suitably full glass.

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