Local Libations: Lovage Pimm’s Cup
By Pete Vasconcellos
It was great to see the spirits from Warwick Valley Winery getting some play in Andrew’s Slick Gin Rickey. The people from Warwick were farmers before they were distillers, and now they’re using their distillery to keep their small farm profitable, so you can feel good about knocking one back.
For this drink, I am sticking with a base of gin, citrus and soda. But I have to say goodbye to the local Pear Brandy to make room for a great British import: Pimm’s No. 1. Pimm’s is a gin-based concoction that is sweet, bitter and light on the booze. The classic Pimm’s Cup (Pimm’s, lime and 7-Up) is meant to be sipped all the summer day-long, and is a staple of upscale British spectator sports like regatta, polo and tennis. In other words, it’s fine to have with breakfast, so long as there’s a game on. In this heat, I am looking for an excuse.
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What’s that you say? Wimbledon starts June 20?! I am such a morning person, for, like, two weeks.
I am sure we have all asked ourselves: How can I salute the upscale day-drunks of the UK while supporting the small farms of New York? The answer is lovage.
I was introduced to lovage through a salad that tasted like a run in the park. It had sliced kirby cucumbers, lemon juice and a leaf that looked like parsley. Lovage, unlike parsley, is wildly aromatic with celery and spice. By itself, it’s intense. In the right concoction, lovage’s lingering celery heat reverberates like an explosion of sweet and citrus. If you’re in NYC, you can head to see Franca from Berried Treasures, one of the pioneer farmers of the Union Square Greenmarket. She has been my lovage hook-up for over a year. For this drink, the lovage is infused in a simple syrup.
I wanted to bump up the lovage with more lovage, so I added a dash of A.B. Smeby’s Celery Lovage Bitters, which I had kicking around from last summer. I don’t think this flavor profile is part of Mr. Smeby’s catalogue any longer, but if we all start clapping slowly and in unison, maybe he will make it again. If not, Smeby’s “Forbidden” bitters add an equally stunning level of depth.
To recap, this drink is the marriage of day drinking and a salad on top of a gin sour. I’ve stuck with the Breucklen Gin for its rich sweetness. Lemon seemed to be the best fit for citrus, thanks to my salad inspiration. Finish it with a splash of soda and cucumbers to garnish. I still root for McEnroe.
Prep Time (with lovage syrup): 30 minutes
Active Prep Time: 2 Minutes
Tools: Shaker, Jigger, Strainer, Knife, Something for Boiling water, Non-reactive container (2 cups)
- 1 1/4 oz Breuckelen Gin
- 3/4 oz Lovage infused simple syrup
- 1/2 oz Pimm’s no 1
- dash A.B. Smeby’s lovage celery bitters
- 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice
- soda water
- cucumber slice
1. Combine Lemon Juice, Bitters, Pimm’s, Lovage Syrup* and Gin in a shaker with ice.
2. Shake well and strain into a collins glass with fresh ice cubes
3. Fill the glass to the top with soda water
4. Garnish with two cucumber slices OR one cucumber spear
5. Watch Wimbledon
*For Lovage Syrup:
1. Wash your lovage thoroughly and clip any brown parts of the base of the stems
2. Bring three cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat.
3. Place 6 to 8 lovage stems (leaves, stems and all) into the pot (if it’s non-reactive, like pyrex).
4. Cover the container and allow the lovage to steep and cool naturally (about 25 minutes at room temp)
5. Strain the lovage water into a new container, preferably with a cap or lid
6. Add three cups of sugar to the lovage water.
7. Shake vigorously as many times as needed until the sugar is dissolved.
Note: You might skip the cold simple syrup method to save time by just adding the sugar to the water as it boils. I find that taking the time to make the syrup cold eliminates unwanted caramelized flavoring from heating the sugar. It’s a cleaner sweeter taste.