One of the greatest things about mixology is getting to try spirits from around the world and to learn about how they spread from their origin to new destinations. For example, let's take Pimm's - a low proof British gin-based liqueur with spice and fruit flavors originally created almost 200 years ago. The traditional way of enjoying Pimm's No. 1 is to mix it with a variety of fresh fruit and top with ginger ale or lemonade. It's dangerously drinkable, refreshing and perfect for warm summer nights (this particular version is also perfect for frigid winter nights). These qualities made it a worthy candidate of being adopted as a staple cocktail of New Orleans in the 1940s, though it's now also enjoyed all around the world. Thank you, globalization.
Where am I going with this? One, booze history is always fascinating. Two, I was throwing a New Orleans themed potluck for Will's birthday and was looking for the perfect cocktail -> enter the Pimm's Cup. I knew I wanted to use winter fruit to adapt it to the season and chose to add basil rather than mint for a more interesting flavor combination. I decided not to follow the typical method of putting fruit in a glass and topping with Pimm's and ginger ale because I wanted fuller fruit flavors and less sugar (three cheers for guilt-free cocktails, relatively speaking). Instead, I muddled strawberries and basil (meaning, I squished them into pulp with a muddler to release more goodness), added fresh squeezed blood orange juice and garnished the drink with a slice of fresh blood orange to play with the sense of smell. The result was ridiculously delicious and I encourage you to try it while blood oranges are in season!
Blood Orange Pimm's Cup
- 3 oz Pimm's No. 1
- 2 strawberries
- 1 small blood orange
- Handful of fresh basil
- Club soda, to top
Muddle strawberries and basil in a tall glass (set aside one basil leaf for garnish). Add 3-4 ice cubes to the glass then top with the Pimm's. Cut a slice out of the middle of the blood orange and set aside for garnish. Juice the remainder of the blood orange into the glass. Stir the cocktail gently until it starts to cool, then top with a bit of club soda for fizz. Cut a small indent into the blood orange slice to hang it on the rim of the glass and lower the remaining basil leaf into the front-facing side of the glass using your stirrer (or chop stick). Turn on some blues, munch on jambalaya and sip away to your heart's content!