There's Always Room for P-I-M-M-S

Brace yourself. Things are about to get real. And by real, I mean real weird. And by weird, I mean gelatin. But I can't help it, I love it during the summer. Having access to backyard mint and a steady supply of cool, crunchy cucumbers doesn’t hurt during the warmer months, either.

Nor does knowing how to make a Pimm's Cup cocktail. (Do you see where I'm going with this?) So what better way to combine these summertime items than by suspending them in gelatin.

But first: the Pimm's cup. I could talk rather poetically about how I first came to love the cocktail. I was with one of my oldest friends. You know the kind. The kind whose signature is in the majority of your yearbooks. And could probably blackmail you if she wanted.

We were in one of the oldest bars in Boston. In the company of tiny black and white tiles; antique-stained mirrors; and an attentive bartender, sipping a bright iced tea-looking liquid from Collins glasses. This makes us sound quite ladylike. I assure you, we were not. In fact, we probably—more accurately—were gulping instead of sipping, sucking them down until our glasses were dry, our slurping straws screeching for another round.

At the time we were at the Marliave, which originally opened in the 19th century and is tragically underrated in Boston. They have a great croque madame, very politely named the Mrs. Marliave. Don’t let her fool you. She is not a dainty sandwich and I’m pretty sure she caused some hushed cursing—and perhaps pants unbuttoning—that night. Yes, the Marliave makes a great ham and cheese sandwich. And an even better Pimm's Cup.

I won’t go into the details of making a Pimm's cup. Suffice to say that it’s often made with ginger beer. Or lemonade and club soda. Or some combination thereof. It’s frequently finished with cucumber slices and a sprig of mint. Molly from Orangette has a great take on the cocktail. Regardless of your version, it’s light and refreshing and takes very kindly to ham and cheese topped off with an over easy egg. It also works quite well when gelled and cut into cubes.

So, for the second year in a row, I make a boozy nod to Bill Cosby and the nostalgia of Jell-O jigglers. As refreshing as cold gelatin is in the summer, it’s heightened by the light, refreshing quality of a Pimm's cup cocktail. It also gets added crunch from the mint and the cucumber, which I assure you won’t disappoint: especially this time of year, when petite pickling cucumbers are abundant in farmers’ markets. It may not be refined, but it won’t necessitate any unbuttoning of pants. And it's a breeze to make.

Most importantly, it’s fun. Which often flies directly in the face of refinement. And that’s fine by me. Because today we are here to celebrate a different way to down a Pimm's cup: with our bare hands. Yes, Bill, they are a handful of fun.

Pimm's Cup Cocktail Cubes


24 oz ginger brew or ginger ale, divided (for a total of 2 cans or bottles)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
4 packages of gelatin (I used Knox)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup Pimm's No.1
Pinch of cumin
1 small pickling cucumber, cut into thin slices
Few sprigs of mint


Heat 12 oz (1 can or bottle) of ginger soda with the sugar and salt in a saucepan until just boiling. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine gelatin with the remaining 12 oz (or remaining can or bottle) to soften for a few minutes (about 3-5 minutes or so). Stir the lemon juice and Pimm's into the gelatin and then add in the boiling ginger mixture. Add a pinch of cumin and stir until gelatin is dissolved. At this point, you could taste the mixture and adjust the flavor as needed. (The sweetness may vary slightly depending on the ginger soda you use and your preference.)

Add in the cucumber slices and a few mint leaves off the sprigs. Pour into a rectangular baking dish (mine is 11 x 7). Refrigerate until firm, ideally overnight.

Makes about 15 cubes

-I am loving Maine Root's ginger brew this summer. I used one bottle of that plus one of GuS extra dry ginger ale, which is also some kind of wonderful.

-The pinch of cumin is there to compliment the spicy undertones of Pimm's No.1, which has always reminded me slightly of curry.

-While we are on the topic of busting buttons on pants, I should let you know Nick and Theo will be hosting The Boston Pie Experiment at the Middle East in Cambridge on Sunday, July 31st. Anyone can compete. Anyone can attend. Everyone should wear elastic-waisted pants.


  1. I fell in love with Pimm's Cup when I studied at Oxford University and LOVE indulging in this cocktail whenever I can!

  2. My friend brought me back a bottle of Pimm's on her recent trip to England and I've been looking for fun cocktail ideas. This fits the bill! Thanks, and nice meeting you at Tech Munch last weekend.

  3. As I told you at the food conference, I just love your style...the stories, along with the recipes truly are must-read for foodies.

    -The Mighty Rib

  4. I've never had a Pimms cup cocktail but it looks and sounds super super delicious, especially in jello form. Can't wait to give it a try.

  5. The jello looks lovely. I never head of Pimms yet. I have to keep an eye out for it.

  6. i was always so fascinated by jello (and bill cosby...), and then i became a food scientist and found out more than i ever wanted to know about the stuff. :)
    fun creation!

  7. when you were describing said place in the precursor paragraph, i just KNEW it was the Marliave. as i kept reading, i was happy I was right! and that drink is one of my favorites! I would love to try it in gelatin form!

  8. I love, love, love Pimms so I will be sure to make these!