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A modern bottle of Pimm's No. 1 Cup
Product typeLiqueur
OwnerDiageo (since 1997)
Previous ownersJames Pimm, et al.

Pimm's is a brand of gin-based fruit cup, 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.[1][2]


Pimm's and lemonade with mint sprigs and fruit

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.

In 1851, Pimm's No. 2 Cup and Pimm's No. 3 Cup were introduced. Pimm's began large-scale production in 1851 to keep up with sales to other bars. The distillery began selling it commercially in 1859. 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". 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[2] had taken control. The Distillers Company was subsequently purchased by Guinness PLC in 1986 [3] and Pimm's became part of Diageo when Guinness and Grand Metropolitan merged in 1997.[4] 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.


A Pimm's stand set up in a music festival using a converted bus as a bar area

It has a dark-brown colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. As a summer long drink, it is also commonly served as Pimm's cocktail, a drink with "English-style" (clear and carbonated) lemonade, as well as various chopped garnishes, particularly apples, cucumber, oranges, lemons, strawberry, and mint or borage, though nowadays most substitute mint.[5] 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". Pimm's Winter Cup is generally mixed with warm apple juice. A Glasgow Garden Party substitutes Irn Bru for lemonade and excludes any fruit garnish. A Pimm's mojito substitutes muddled limes and soda water for lemon-lime soda.[6]

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. The first Pimm's Bar opened at the Wimbledon tournament in 1971 and every year, over 80,000 pints of Pimm's cocktail are sold to spectators.[7] Along with champagne, it has been declared one of two official drinks of Wimbledon, and it has also gained popularity among British universities.[8] A Pimm's is also a standard cocktail at British and American polo matches.[9] It is also extremely popular at the summer garden parties of British universities.

The brand experienced a revival following a 2003 advertising campaign featuring a humorous classic upper-class Hooray Henry called Harry Fitzgibbon-Sims[10] (portrayed by Alexander Armstrong) with the catchphrase "It's Pimm's o'clock!",[11] somewhat mocking their own traditional advertising and appeal. Diageo's 2010 campaign[12] 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.


Some less-frequently-seen Pimm's bottles

Seven Pimm's products have been produced, all fruit cups, differing only in their base alcohol:[13] Only Nos. 1, 6, and a 'Winter Cup' based on No. 3 remain.

  • Pimm's No. 1 Cup is the most popular version. Based on gin, 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 whisky. Currently phased out.
  • Pimm's No. 6 Cup is based on vodka. It is still produced, but in small quantities.[2]

Pimm's No. 1 has also been sold with additional strawberry flavouring and a special has also been produced based on Pimms No. 6 with blackberry and elderflower flavouring.


Some retailers have marketed "Pimms style" drinks under other names. In the UK, these have included Aldi's "Austin's", Lidl's "Jeeves", and Sainsbury's "Pitchers".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (n.d.). "It's Pimm's O'Clock". Pimm's. Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Staff (30 May 2011). "Vodka Pimm's – The Mystery of Pimm's No. 6 Vodka Cup". Summer Fruit Cup (blog). Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  3. ^ Guinness directors showed 'contempt for truth' BBC, 28 November 1997
  4. ^ "Spirits soar at Diageo". Findarticles.com. 2005. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  5. ^ Ch, Victoria; ler (11 March 2019). "How to make the perfect jug of Pimm's". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Pimm's mojito (an alternative Pimm's cocktail)". 2 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Pimm's Cup Cocktail - Drink Like You're at Wimbledon!". 12 July 2019.
  8. ^ Katz, Lauren. "Thirsty Thursday: What's a Pimm's Cocktail?". Rachael Ray Every Day.
  9. ^ Lloyd, John; Roberts, Michael (1989). The Pimm's Book of Polo. Trafalgar Square Pub. pp. 11, 181, 190. ISBN 9780943955179.
  10. ^ Zabo, Agi (12 August 2008). "Pimm's Enjoys Taste of Success". Mediaweek. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  11. ^ Leonard, Tom (30 April 2003). "Pimms Bows to the Inevitable Summer Shower". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  12. ^ Emmas, Carol (23 March 2010). "Diageo Launches Heat-Activated Pimm's Campaign". Harper's Wine and Spirits Trades Review. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  13. ^ Staff. "Pimm's". h2g2. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  14. ^ Shooter, Anne (8 July 2014). "Pimm's wars: There are more lookalike rivals than ever. But which really packs a punch?". Mail Online. Retrieved 11 July 2015.

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