Basil Plum Pimm’s Cup

The classic Pimm’s Cup cocktail gets a summery twist from fresh plums and basil.

Even though I lived a mere 10 minute drive from San Francisco’s acclaimed vegan restaurant Millenium for a decade, it wasn’t until it moved to Rockridge that I finally got to eat there.

After a quick and only semi-sketchy Bart ride, I met Sarah for a dinner date one night last week. A server greeted us with lettuce leaves and a bowl of dip made from herbs and legumes. The menu was a panoply of deliciousness that was impossible to choose from, but we managed to settle on a pickle plate, a starter of little polenta cakes with mushrooms, cashew cheese, and something akin to ratatouille, and a creamy red lentil curry topped with a crispy cake of rice and lots of pretty vegetables. Dessert was a raw and vegan peach cheesecake on a chunky pistachio crust.

I’d heard mixed reviews of Millennium throughout the years, so perhaps my expectations were low, or maybe it was the fabulous company, but I absolutely loved our meal.

On my way to the ladies’ room, I saw a familiar crop of blond hair and recognized it as belonging to Michael Bauer, the man most feared by every restauranteur in the Bay Area. Back in my pastry cook days, restaurant kitchens would post a snapshot of his face along with a sign that read, “If you see this man, notify a manager immediately.” Executive chefs would personally plate his meals, extra courses and amuses bouche would be added on, and the atmosphere in the kitchen would become unbearably tense until he left, chefs anxiously awaiting his verdict in the paper in the coming weeks.

Back at my seat, I revealed my finding to Sarah, and we wondered whether the restaurant was privy to the diner who would decide their fate with a few taps on a keyboard. We decided to ask the waiter.

“Is Michael Bauer here tonight?” I asked.

Our server looked confused and mumbled something that sounded like, “I don’t know who that is.”

It was then that I feared for Millennium.

As it turned out,Michael Bauer was not enjoying his meal as much as we.

During all of this drama and intrigue, I sipped another delectable menu item, a Pimm’s Cup packed with muddled pluots and fresh herbs. Pimm’s Cups have been popping up on menus everywhere, and for good reason. The gin-based spirit dates back to the mid 1800’s where it was invented by the owner of an oyster bar who offered up tankards to aid digestion. It has the complex notes of an Italian aperitivo or an old-fashioned gin and tonic – at once bitter, sweet, spicy, and herbaceous. I first learned about this drink from Todd at HonestlyYum who posted this stunning version. I always order a glass from Hog Island Oyster Company in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, which comes adorned with fragrant bay leaves. And sometimes I’ll whip up a pitcher filled with strawberries and mint a la Kimberley Hasselbrink’s version in Vibrant Food.

While I eagerly await a return visit to Millennium with my mostly vegetarian man, who is the least harsh restaurant critic I’ve ever met, I’ll be mixing up these basil plum Pimm’s cups. They’re quick to put together once you’ve tracked down a bottle of Pimm’s No. 1, a bit of gin and a bottle of good ginger beer. This gets the sweet/sour/boozy ratio just right, while a few slices of plums or pluots plus a handful of basil leaves and some crisp slices of cucumber add a touch of summer.

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Summer Sips:

White Nectarine, Prosecco and Elderflower Sangrìa
Muscovado Mint Juleps
Mumbai Mules

This beverage also is part of a virtual boozy bash honoring the bounty of late summer and hosted by Sherrie and Renee. See below for more #DRINKTHESUMMER libations!
With Food + Love | Fresh Heirloom Bloody Marys with Old Bay and Spicy Pickles
Will Frolic for Food | The Sugar Hollow: Watermelon Gin Cocktail with Cardamom and Lime
Kale & Caramel | Sweet Coconut, Hibiscus & Lime Slushie
Hummingbird High | Thyme Lemonade
Brooklyn Supper | Bloody Maria Cocktails
Cake Over Steak | Blackberry Bourbon Cocktail
Loves Food, Loves to Eat | Coconut Nectarine White Wine Spritzers
Dunk & Crumble | Ginger Peach Whiskey Smash
Tasty Yummies | When Figs Fly: Spiced Rum Fig Kombucha Cocktail
Feed Me Phoebe | Pimm’s Cup Cocktail with Fresh Ginger, Lime and Tarragon
Earthy Feast | Strawberry, Basil and Pink Peppercorn Negroni
Ginger & Toasted Sesame | Blackberry Peach Margarita with Spicy Salt
O&O Eats | The Long Hope: a Honeydew Cucumber Gin Cocktail
my name is yeh | Nutella Egg Cream
Faring Well | Sparkling Melon Coolers with Muddled Raspberries and Mint
Beard and Bonnet | Pineapple and Cilantro Moscow Mule
The Pancake Princess |Strawberry Balsamic Shrubs
Edible Perspective | Rosé Slushies
Vegetarian ‘Ventures | Sparkling Peppered Plum Blush
The Broken Bread | Blackberry, Cucumber and Mint Gin Spritzer
Appeasing a Food Geek | Sugar Plum Margarita
She Eats | Fizzy Lime and Blackberry Shrub
holly & flora | Pimm’s Cup with Blackberry and Lemon Zest Shrub
Vigor and Sage | Peachy Tomato Basil Gin and Tonic
The Pig & Quill | Raspberry Basil Gingerade Fizz
Hungry Girl por Vida | Peanut Butter and Berry Smoothie
A Brown Table | Fig and Bourbon Summer Smash
The Clever Carrot | 5 Minute White Peach Margaritas
Cookie and Kate | Watermelon Sangria
le jus d’orange | Peach Yogurt Soju and Ginger Plum Kombucha Cocktail
Chocolate + Marrow | Raspberry Thyme Smash
Snixy Kitchen | Sparkling Asian Pear and Mint Iced Tea
what’s cooking good looking | Watermelon Basil Colada
i am a food blog | Thyme Gin and Tonics
Fix, Feast, Flair |Berry Peachy Kentucky Mules
Salt & Wind |Watermelon Aperol Spritzes
Hungry Girl Por Vida |Peanut Butter and Berry Smoothie

Basil Plum Pimm’s Cup

Inspired by Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food and Millennium’s Pluot Pimm’s Cup

All ounce measurements are by volume.

Makes 2 large or 4 smaller servings

4 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
2 ounces gin (Hendrick’s is my favorite)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 a lemon, sliced
1 large plum or pluot, sliced
~1/4 cup cucumber, sliced (I used lemon and Persian cucumbers)
a handful of small basil leaves (or larger leaves, torn)
4-8 ounces good ginger beer (I like Bundaberg and Ginger People best)

In a pitcher, combine the Pimm’s, gin, lemon juice, sliced lemon, plums and cucumbers. Add ice, give it a stir to chill, then add the ginger beer, starting with the smaller amount and adding more to your taste. Serve immediately or let sit for a bit to infuse the flavors, then ladle into glasses and serve.

27 thoughts on “Basil Plum Pimm’s Cup”

  1. These shots are so perfectly summer lush, Alanna. Make an extra for me, please! Ps, I completely lol'd at your Michael Bauer story. Alas poor Millennium. Maybe we should bring them some Pimm's Cups! YAY #DRINKTHESUMMER!

  2. Oh my gosh, Alanna your drink shots are always SO gorgeous. This booze bash let me shoot cocktails for the first time and it is HARD. I really love your photography here, and the stories you told. So lovely, all of it!

  3. Alanna! You're bringing me back! Memories of my grandmother and grandfather drinking Pimms on the back deck overlooking the lake in summertime…. lovely. It's been so long since I have had anything to drink – let alone a Pimms. I think I might just have to break my streak!

  4. I absolutely loved going to Millenium when we lived in SF! Glad to hear you had a wonderful time there even if Mr. Bauer did not. LOL.

    And these drinks! They're just gorgeous with the bright greens and oranges. I think I'm going to try them with pluots…mostly because I just like saying the word pluot…haha. Cheers, lady!! xx

  5. What a humorous twist on your evening – you tried to warn them! Also, these are the prettiest (and I've seen some pretty damn gorgeous ones) Pimm's cups I've ever seen! One of my favorite cocktails for sure!

  6. Yum! These sound so refreshing, Alanna — and that meal at Millennium sounds divine to me! But I'm no Michael Bauer… ;) Happy drinking!

  7. This cocktail is music to my ears! I love Pimms and Hendrick's is my favourite gin too! Is Pimms hard to get hold of in the US? It's everywhere in the UK and they've introduced lots of infused versions like elderflower and strawberry.

    These pictures are stunning, the drinks almost look too good to drink!

  8. I love reading restaurant reviews of the places I have visited, but I feel bad for the staff and owners if I loved my experience and the reviewer didn't.
    I had my first Pimms experience about 10 years ago at a high tea and I have loved it ever since! I can't wait to make these herby, fruity cocktails as soon as summer rolls around. What a delightful way to toast the bounty :) and not a critic in sight :)

  9. Julie likes Pimm's Cup but we haven't had it for years. I'll get some of the ingredients you mention and make it for her. The variation you discuss here sounds like it will be even better than the usual method.
    By the way, how do you know that Michael Bauer didn't like his meal?

  10. Julie likes Pimm's Cup but we haven't had it for years. I'll get some of the ingredients you mention and make it for her. The variation you discuss here sounds like it will be even better than the usual method.
    By the way, how do you know that Michael Bauer didn't like his meal?

  11. That {vegan peach cheesecake on a chunky pistachio crust} whaaaa? Sounds amazing. And basil plum pimms sounds amazing too. And, your photos are as beautiful as always. Thanks for hanging with us this week Alanna, #DRINKTHESUMER, xx!!

  12. I just found your blog from the #drinkthesummer event and I am so happy I did. Everyone who participated in the event contributed such beautiful work. Your photos! I stare and I stare. I really enjoyed reading your about page. Looking forward to following you and seeing what else you create.
    P.S. Sorry If I end up posting two comments I tried to delete one…

  13. This morning my wife pulled this recipe out of my “I have to try this!” folder so I had no choice but to make this today. I can never get my drinks to look as beautiful as yours, but oh my what a lovely variation on a Pimm’s Cup! I’ll be making this all season as a welcome alternative to sangria. Thank you, as always, for another inspiring and delightful recipe.

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