The Friday Tipple: OlymPimms

What ho, Boozers. The Olympic flame is burning brightly across the Pond — let the games begin. Here in the Colonies, we’re gearing up for a replay of the American uprising, as we can’t stand to be outdone for long by the monarchy. Didn’t they get enough time in the limelight with that royal wedding? Michael Phelps, do your thing.

Yet, despite it all, Anglophile fever grips us as we stockpile crumpets and Earl Grey tea to partake of while we watch semi-naked hurdlers and fully-clothed dressage. Or, even better, Pimm’s. Nothing could be more British than a proper Pimm’s Cup, unless you’re an American upstart who can’t leave well enough alone. So today we offer for your approval the OlymPimms, a melding of American ingenuity with good old British know-how. Get your friends together for a little relay race with the remote, then settle in for two weeks of competitive couch surfing. Pip-pip.


We like a classic, simple Pimm’s Cup ourselves, but the fruity flavor of Pimm’s No. 1 also lends itself to a berry-filled interpretation. As Pimm’s No. 1 is gin-based, we macerated some strawberries in our favorite American-made gin, Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin, and then whipped up a housemade blueberry-ginger soda for the mixer. Trust us: it’s sublime.

Blueberry-Ginger simple syrup (recipe below)

Pimm’s No. 1


Dry vermouth

Fresh strawberries, stems removed

Chilled club soda

To make the Blueberry-Ginger simple syrup: Take one cup of cleaned fresh blueberries and put them in a small saucepan. Add water until the blueberries are just covered, then stir in 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add a one-inch piece of fresh ginger and bring the mixture to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to very low and cook until reduced by half and syrup has thickened. Strain; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To make the OlymPimms: Put one large or two small ripe strawberries in the bottom of a tall glass. Add one ounce gin, a splash of dry vermouth, and muddle the strawberries. Set aside for 15 minutes. In a cocktail shaker, pour 2 – 3 tablespoons of blueberry-ginger syrup in the bottom of the shaker, then add 4 ounces chilled club soda and stir thoroughly. Add a few ice cubes to the tall glass and pour in the blueberry-ginger soda. Top with one ounce of Pimm’s No. 1 and garnish with a strawberry.


Much ado about muddlers

Muddled about muddlers? You are not alone. I’ve been making some beverages lately that really require muddling, but I don’t have an official muddler.

Oops, sorry — have I muddled you already?

Muddling: This technique of smashing ingredients into the bottom off a cocktail glass may have begun with the quintessential cocktail, the Old Fashioned. When preparing an OF, you drop a sugar cube into a highball glass, add a smidge of club soda and a few drops of bitters — and, with some recipes, a maraschino cherry — and crush everything lightly with the back of a spoon before topping it all off with ice cubes, a good quality whiskey, and a garnish of orange slice, lemon twist, and a couple of cherries.

It’s the dog days of summer now, which I consider to be Mojito Season, and mojitos require proper muddling. A muddler is basically a stick that you use to smash those essential ingredients in the bottom of the glass. Why muddle? Because it releases some fresh flavors to the liquid that will brighten your drink to something far beyond the ordinary.

There is a wide range of prices where muddlers are concerned — anywhere from $8 to $40 or more. You’ll find them made of pretty much every material, from plastic and metal to wood and marble. There are two types — flat and textured — providing the ability to do everything from gently bruise to coarsely crush the ingredients. Mint leaves don’t take much muddling or you’ll end up with a minty paste in the bottom of your glass, but a chunky slice of orange needs a little more work to get those essential oils flowing.

Since I don’t have a proper muddler yet, I looked through my kitchen for some eligible substitutes:

Chopstick — point is too small. Wisks have nice bottoms to their handles, but it’s a little hard to crush fruit by holding the wisk end. Crab hammer is too big for a standard glass. Potato masher has the same issue as both the wisk and the hammer, depending on which end you use. Wooden spoon handles — bingo. One is rounded, the other has a point, offering me different options depending on the ingredients.

Ready to muddle? Check back tomorrow for our weekly feature, The Friday Tipple, for a delicious recipe to get your weekend started right. See you then!