Nothing puts me in a summer mood like sitting in the shade sipping a cocktail. Oh sure, you can make cocktails anytime, but for some reason, summer and cocktails just go together like “chips and dip” or “Zambrano and meltdown hissyfit”. On a recent trip to Kith & Kin, I strayed from my usual glass-of-wine-with-dinner and had a cocktail, their version of the Pimm’s Cup. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find myriad variations on the Pimm’s Cup, using lemonade or ginger ale, mint, cucumber, etc. The Kith & Kin version uses muddled cucumber and Thai basil, and made me feel like I was sipping the essence of summer in liquid format.
Just as mint juleps are a staple at the Kentucky Derby, Pimm’s Cup is the official drink of Wimbledon (side note – is there an official drink for the World’s Cup?) While I never got around to watching any of the Wimbledon tournaments this year, I did manage to make a Pimm’s Cup and it may be my new favorite summer cocktail. I used this recipe from Chow.com and was very pleased with the results.
Some tips for making restaurant-quality cocktails at home.
- The best restaurants use the same care in preparing cocktails as any item on the menu. They don’t use pre-made “mixers” with a lot of artificial colors and ingredients. The best food is always made with fresh ingredients and cocktails are no different. If the recipe calls for lime juice, don’t buy the crap in the plastic lime-shaped bottle at the grocery store. Buy real limes and squeeze them yourself. Trust me, you can taste the difference.
- Fresh herbs can add a lot to the finished cocktail. I used mint (which I grow in our back yard) for the Pimm’s Cup, but at Kith & Kin they used Thai basil. Experiment with your favorites.
- Simple syrup is a staple of many cocktails. It’s easy to make and keeps forever in the fridge. There seems to be 2 recipes, one uses a ratio of 2:1 sugar/water, and another 1:1 sugar/water. I go with the 2:1 sugar/water version, but I tend to like things sweeter. Whichever you choose, put the ingredients in a saucepan on the stove, bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves (don’t let it boil too long), then let cool. Transfer to the storage container of your choice (I use little plastic condiment bottles) and store in the fridge.
Have fun, experiment & remember, even if it doesn't turn out perfect, it's still booze!