Pimm's with Borage

Pimm’s. Borage rules, cucumber too.

Updated, July 7th, 2014. My recipe has evolved since the original post, so I thought I’d share it now. First of all, for some reason, this time around we’ve ‘graduated’ to Pimm’s no. 6, and I’m not sure why. It doesn’t seem quite as ‘Pimmish’ as no. 1., maybe because it’s Vodka based and not Gin.

Two things drive the timing for the season’s first Pimm’s: Wimbledon, and the arrival of Borage flowers.

Anyway, I’ve tweaked the recipe below …

Pimm’s and borage, Tim Pawsey photo


Our Borage is in flower so it’s time to resurrect the Pimm’s bottle.

Here’s an update to last year’s post (which our friend Ross says is way too long, anyway…)

Pimm’s recipe: 

You will need (per tall drink):

Borage flowers and small leaves (ideally) or Cucumber, or both

 2 oz. Pimms No 1. (or No. 6)

• 3 oz. good Ginger Beer, such as Reeds

• 3 oz of sparkling water

• juice of half a fresh lemon

• ice

Combine ingredients, garnish with a large sprig of mint … and a borage leaf. Tap them with the blunt edge of a heavy knife to help bring out the flavours. Top with a flower.

Sip … Make more

 Some people like to mess it up with oranges and strawberries, or whatever, but we think if Mr. Pimm had wanted that he’d have thought of it first. Besides, we’ve always had a slightly bitter streak


We’ve been playing around with some bitters recently, for no particular reason other than it just seemed a tasty, cooling thing to do.

Time was, not that long ago, when we used to keep a bottle of Jägermeister in the freezer, purely for medicinal reasons—as a cure for over-indulgence.

However, that all changed when somebody decided Jägermeister was actually a highly desirable liquor and the BC government promptly banned it from corner stores, dumped a whole bunch of taxes onto it, and made you go to the liquor store to buy it.

It then became the propellant of choice for university students—long known for their more esoteric, even pragmatic (if not always comprehendible) tastes.

Presumably it was that group who came up with the inspired notion that it would be just wonderful to combine Jägermeister with Red Bull to make the now infamous Jagerbomb, which, given sufficient intake, could enable one to be both drunk and wired at the same time.

It’s been some time since ‘Jagy’ and I parted company.

Not so, though, for Pimm’s No. 1, which we recently rediscovered after a lengthy absence—for no particular reason other than one never would be caught dead drinking what your parents might have sipped in ‘polite company’ at a cocktail party.

Pimm’s No 1, (BCLS $24.29), the once hallowed liquid emblem of all things British (at places like Boodles club), is riding a wave of popularity on the tails of the cocktail boom.

It’s a revival driven, in part, by recent ads like this …

or this …

Although, we kind of like this older mash-up that salutes Pimm’s longevity:

The point is: there are almost as many permutations of Pimm’s recipes as there are (or were) Pimm’s themselves.

We checked in with Shaun Layton in Vancouver, head bartender at Gastown’s tastefully edgy l’Abattoir.

“Yup, we serve a classic Pimm’s,” he says.

And it’s not that complicated:

“Measure 2 ounces of Pimm’s no.1 into a Collins (tall) glass, dump in lots of ice and fill to the brim with ginger ale or ginger beer.”

“Deck out the drink with whatever fruit you’ve got!,” says Shaun.

“Enjoy, and don’t just have one …”, he counsels.

Thanks, Shaun. We do…

As far as its history, Pimm’s medicinal arrival in London predated Jägermeister by about a decade.

We don’t know if, in 1823, oyster bar owner James Pimm’s customers actually needed stomach bitters after slurping a few dozen bivalves. But his gin based tonic (that contained quinine and a secret herb formula) proved very popular.

He served it in a small tankard, known as a ‘No. 1 Cup’.

Pimm’s oyster business flourished (eventually, much later, becoming a franchised chain)—as did the tipple that bears his name, spawning over 150 years a string of no less than six Pimm’s recipes.

For a long, refreshing summer cocktail, it’s tough to beat the original, slightly citrus and spicy toned No. 1, that appeals to people (like me) looking for a more savoury than sweet experience.

Ginger ale is fine, although the purists insist a ‘true’ Pimm’s should still be made with real sparkling lemonade.

If you have a SodaStream, you could probably make your own. Fever Tree bitter lemon (available at some specialty stores) mixed with soda water also works well.

Borage: This year’s self seeded crop is looking good….

The main thing is: don’t skimp on the fresh mint leaves, or on the cucumber which absolutely enhances Pimm’s No 1. flavours! And if you still have borage in the garden, drop in a couple of leaves and flowers along with some orange and strawberries to top things off.

Meanwhile, we’ll confess, we’ve renewed our acquaintance with Pimm’s, with an occasional sip in its original role.

As a digestif or foil for mild cases of over indulgence, it’s very effective.

And, we dare say, just a tad more palatable than Jågermeister.