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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

All hail the refreshing Pimm’s Cup

The British cocktail has ties to New Orleans through ironically a French-themed restaurant.

Summer in New Orleans and steam rises from the sidewalks, thunder rolls in black clouds scaling upwards from Gulf waters and perspiration trickles down the backs of knees. It’s hot and humid in the Crescent City this time of year, which may be one reason why cocktails reign supreme.


Travel around the French Quarter and you’ll find a host of cocktails, many of which originated in New Orleans and are celebrated every July at the Tales of the Cocktail (this year July 21-26, 2024). One drink that’s popular in August and found in numerous Quarter establishments is the refreshing Pimm’s Cup, comprised of a liqueur and other summer-style ingredients. The drink’s so popular in New Orleans when the heat index takes off that many people erroneously believe the cocktail was invented here.


London’s James Pimm dreamed up the gin-based Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur as a health tonic in the 1840s. The drink’s popularity spread throughout the British Empire, eventually arriving in New Orleans and reaching its own fame at the French Quarter’s Napoleon House in the late 1940s. The cocktail lacks heavy alcohol content and contains mixers found refreshing in summer months, allowing patrons to beat the heat with a cool drink without falling asleep before dinner.


What goes into the rest of the glass—outside of Pimm’s No. 1—is up to the discretion of the bartender. Ingredients may include lime, cucumbers, mint, fresh fruit, lemonade, tonic water and soft drinks such as Sprite or 7 Up.


Ralph Brennan of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group of New Orleans asked the National Day Archives to grant July 1 as Pimm’s Cup Day. This year will mark the first designation of the refreshing cocktail. Brennan owns the Napoleon House, one of the six oldest buildings in the French Quarter.


According to Brennan's press release, “The popularity of Pimm’s in the United States has ebbed and flowed over the last half-century or so; but no other can surpass the global sales records of Napoleon House, which confirms the fact that it is second only to the historic London bar that birthed this iconic drink.”


On Pimm's Cup Day, the bar's namesake—Napoleon Bonaparte, himself—will lead a ceremonial congratulations to Napoleon House for being given this annual proclamation with a Champagne sabering at 11 a.m. when the doors open. The Napoleon House will offer Pimm's Flight (see middle photo below) and, as lagniappe to the trio, a complimentary tasting of the new Frozen Pimm's Cup.

Want to try a Pimm’s Cup at home? The crisp, low-alcohol drink is refreshing on a hot summer day, and we could use those right now. Here’s the Pimm’s Cup recipe from the Napoleon House.

Pimm’s Cup

1 1/4 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur

3 ounces lemonade

1 ounce 7 Up

Garnish with cucumber slice

Directions: Pour the liqueur, lemonade, and 7 UP into a highball glass filled with ice; stir well. Add the garnish.

Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by Cheré Dastugue Coen, who loves a cold Pimm's Cup on a hot summer day. One of her favorite movies is "Ghost Town," where Ricky Gervais' character Dr. Pincus orders a Pimm's Cup at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. If you haven't seen the movie, the cocktail foretells a romantic matchup. Sinema Sips explains and offers another nice Pimm's Cup recipe. View it here.



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1 commentaire

Bruce Coen
Bruce Coen
22 juin

Great article! I'm getting myself a Pimms Cup rite away!

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