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.
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
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.