The History of Pimm’s No.1 Cup

 An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine. I just finished and submitted it today. If anyone has any feedback or information, please leave a comment!

Pimm’s No. 1 Cup was invented by James Pimm, the owner of a London oyster bar, in the early 1840s. The thirst-quenching drink is based on gin with a mixture of herbs and fruit extracts. The original recipe included quinine because of its medicinal qualities. Pimm originally served his brew as a digestive aid in a small tankard called the No.1 cup, hence the name, “Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.” The drink was a big hit, so Pimm expanded his business to sell it by the bottle to other taverns.

Pimm built a chain of restaurants in many locations, including The Old Bailey and other places that businessmen would likely come across. By 1859, Pimm’s No. 1 Cup was on sale outside of his restaurants. Years later, Pimm sold his tonic drink business because the rights to it ended up with the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Horatio David Davies. It was Davies who made the drink fashionable, particularly amongst the military, because of his connection with London Society.

It was after the Second World War that Pimm’s expanded their range. They began using a number of different spirits as bases for cups. Pimm’s No. 2 Cup was scotch-based while No. 3 used brandy, No. 4 rum, No. 5 rye and No. 6 vodka. The vodka cup and brandy cup are the only ones still in production out of the sequels. The original No. 1 Cup is still very popular. It is often thought of as the number two English drink (tea being the first). The gin-based beverage is downed by the gallon in England during the summer months, especially during sporting events like the tennis tournament, Wimbledon Fortnight and the rowing event, Henley Royal Regatta. The first Pimm’s bar opened at the 1971 Wimbledon tournament, where over 80,000 pints of Pimm’s and lemonade continue to be sold each year.

Pimm’s No. 1 Cup can be served on ice or in cocktails. It’s often taken with English-style lemonade, which is known as lemon-lime soda in the United States, along with chopped fresh fruit, like apples, oranges, lemonsstrawberries, cucumbers and borage or mint. This mix gives a refreshing taste with a hint of citrus and spice. The color of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is similar to that of tea, but with a red tint.

It’s no surprise that Pimm’s No. 1 became a winning formula. Nothing compares to its satisfying taste on a hot summer’s day.  Variations of this classic English staple can be found in bars or on backyard decks during the summer season.


  • Pimm’s No. 1
  • English lemonade (lemon-lime soda)
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 strawberry, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, speared
  • 1 sprig of mint


  • Take a glass and fill it with ice. Mix one part Pimm’s No. 1 with two parts chilled lemonade. Add one orange slice, one lemon slice, one apple slice, one strawberry slice, one cucumber spear and a sprig of mint.

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