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.