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|Owner||Diageo (since 1997)|
|Previous owners||James Pimm, et al.|
Pimm's is a brand of fruit cups, but may also be considered a liqueur. It was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm and has been owned by Diageo since 1997. Its most-popular product is Pimm's No. 1 Cup.
Pimm, a farmer's son from Kent, became the owner of an oyster bar in the City of London, near the Bank of England. He offered the tonic (a gin-based drink containing a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs) as an aid to digestion, serving it in a small tankard known as a "No. 1 Cup", hence its subsequent name. Pimm's began large-scale production in 1851 to keep up with sales to other bars. The distillery began selling it commercially in 1859 using hawkers on bicycles.[dubious ] In 1865, Pimm sold the business and the right to use his name to Frederick Sawyer. In 1880, the business was acquired by future Lord Mayor of London Horatio Davies, and a chain of Pimm's Oyster Houses was franchised in 1887.
Over the years, Pimm's extended their range, using other spirits as bases for new "cups". In 1851, Pimm's No. 2 Cup and Pimm's No. 3 Cup were introduced. After World War II, Pimm's No. 4 Cup was invented, followed by Pimm's No. 5 Cup and Pimm's No. 6 Cup in the 1960s.
The brand fell on hard times in the 1970s and 1980s. The Oyster House chain was sold and Pimm's Cup products Nos. 2 to 5 were phased out due to reduced demand in 1970 after new owners The Distillers Company had taken control. The Distillers Company was subsequently purchased by Guinness plc in 1986  and Pimm's became part of Diageo when Guinness and Grand Metropolitan merged in 1997. In 2005, Pimm's introduced Pimm's Winter Cup, which consists of Pimm's No. 3 Cup (the brandy-based variant) infused with spices and orange peel.
Contemporary advertising and use
The brand experienced a revival following a 2003 advertising campaign featuring a humorous classic upper-class Hooray Henry called Harry Fitzgibbon-Sims (portrayed by Alexander Armstrong) with the catchphrase It's Pimm's O'clock!, somewhat mocking their own traditional advertising and appeal. Diageo's 2010 campaign features a more diverse range of characters representing different elements of the Pimm's cocktail (Pimm's No.1 being an Englishman in red and white blazer, lemonade being three young women in yellow, ice represented by a mature man), coming together to the theme tune of 1970s British television show The New Avengers.
Pimm's is most popular in England, particularly southern England. It is one of the two staple drinks at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Chelsea Flower Show, the Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera – the other being Champagne. A Pimm's is also the standard cocktail at British and American polo matches. It is also extremely popular at the summer garden parties of British universities.
There are seven Pimm's products, all of which are fruit cups, only Cups Nos. 1, 3 and 6 are still available at present. The essential difference among them is the base alcohol used to produce them:
- Pimm's No. 1 Cup is based on gin and can be served both on ice or in cocktails. It has a dark-tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. It is often taken with "English-style" (clear and carbonated) lemonade, as well as various chopped fresh ingredients, particularly apples, cucumber, oranges, lemons, strawberry, and mint or borage, though nowadays most substitute mint. Ginger ale is a common substitute for lemonade. Pimm's can also be mixed with Champagne (or a sparkling white wine), called a "Pimm's Royal Cup". Its base as bottled is 25 percent alcohol by volume.
- can also be purchased as a pre-mixed fortified lemonade (Pimm's & Lemonade) in 250 ml cans or 1-litre bottles, at 5.4 percent.
- Pimm's No. 2 Cup was based on Scotch whisky. Currently phased out.
- Pimm's No. 3 Cup is based on brandy. Phased out, but a version infused with spices and orange peel marketed as Pimm's Winter Cup is now seasonally available.
- Pimm's No. 4 Cup was based on rum. Currently phased out.
- Pimm's No. 5 Cup was based on rye whiskey. Currently phased out.
- Pimm's No. 6 Cup is based on vodka. It is still produced, but in small quantities.
Pimm's Cups No.7+
Whilst Pimm's only officially ever made fruit cups numbering 1-6, in recent[when?] years various bartenders have started to experiment with their own Pimm's-style drinks using different bases. A popular spirit to use as "Pimm's No. 7" is tequila although cups based on bourbon, absinthe and Islay whisky also exist.
- Staff (undated). "It's Pimm's O'Clock". Pimm's. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Staff (30 May 2011). "Vodka Pimm’s – The Mystery of Pimm’s No. 6 Vodka Cup". Summer Fruit Cup (blog). Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Guinness directors showed 'contempt for truth' BBC, 28 November 1997
- "Spirits soar at Diageo". Findarticles.com. 2005. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Zabo, Agi (12 August 2008). "Pimm's Enjoys Taste of Success". Mediaweek. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Leonard, Tom (30 April 2003). "Pimms Bows to the Inevitable Summer Shower". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Emmas, Carol (23 March 2010). "Diageo Launches Heat-Activated Pimm's Campaign". Harper's Wine and Spirits Trades Review. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Lloyd, John; Michael, Roberts; Ferguson, Major Ronald (1989). The Pimm's Book of Polo. London: Mackenzie Publishing Limited. pp. 11, 181, 190. ISBN 0-943955-17-3.
- Staff. "Pimm’s". h2g2. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Staff (4 July 2011). "Recreating the Long Lost Pimm’s Cups – Scotch, Rum, Rye & Tequila.". Summer Fruit Cup (blog). Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- anyoneforpimms.com, the company's official website