How to be an ex-pat: Pimms

Weather is a guaranteed conversation here. It’s cliched, but socially useful, and in the case of the past few days, an expression of national celebration. It’s probably because this will be all for the English summer of 2012, but nonetheless, the sunshine is so welcome that it makes total sense for it to be front page news.

A little less welcome is the crowds of shirtless older men who really should know better than to walk about the center of town or the supermarket like that. Or the trend for high-waisted denim underwear. You can’t really call them shorts when there’s a large and rippling expanse of pale cheek half-mooning out on either leg. I’m no saint I suppose, having spent this entire weekend in a bikini top and (proper) short-shorts, but at least I put a top on to do my shopping.

Remaining positive though, one of the best things about living over here is that you truly miss the sun and when it comes back, you do your best like everyone else to make the most of it. In California the sun can be almost oppressive in its ubiquity. Some Saturdays you just want to curl up under the covers and watch movies all day; bright sunshine and clear skies and mild weather make you feel guilty about lazing around.

Now that I’ve gained a few shades of brown to normalize my skin tone (and lost a few pounds of winter insulation), I’m in the mood for the ultimate summer drink: Pimms & Lemonade.

Probably my favorite place in England.

I baby-ducked onto this as my summer drink during a study abroad at Durham University in college. I don’t like cider or beer (unless it’s sipping the foam off of someone else’s Guinness), and as I wasn’t too keen on flaming sambucas, this became my go-to tipple.

It’s a gin-based cocktail liquor that you mix with carbonated lemonade/lemon soda and add in anything up to an entire fruit salad. If I can’t get the fancy French lemonade (although it’s a staple of my Trader Joes runs) it’s possible to use 7-Up, though I cut it with a bit of carbonated water as I find it too sweet.

This weekend my mix-ins are raspberry lemonade, English strawberries and fresh mint. If I ever do a pitcher, I’ll add in slices of orange and lemon and cucumber, and put raspberries in the glasses to serve as otherwise they get soggy and gross.

For my going away party several years back I mixed my own Pimms cocktails. Unfortunately, the recipe from the Times seems to have gone behind a paywall. There are some decent recipes around, but they require an element of forward planning beyond me.

My mix was something like: 1 part each gin and red vermouth with 1/2 part Cointreau, leave to sit with orange and lemon slices and mint in the fridge for about half an hour before adding in the lemonade and serving.

Obviously, there’s an element of quality control involved as you may have to fix yourself several taste tests to ensure that you’ve gotten a properly balanced mix. Not that it’s anything but a pleasant task when the sun is shining and the weather is nice.


About tara

Often heard to refrain "I left San Francisco for this?" Formerly homeschooled. Living the dirt-poor post-student expat life in various non-urban areas of England's North. Sanity preserved by cooking yummy foods for a multiple allergy diet.
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