Pimms and jugJames Pimm, owner of an oyster bar in Victorian London, designed his Original drink to wash down the oysters. This house blend, known as a ‘cup’, included ingredients common to many bars or pubs - gin, soda, lemon, sugar, quinine and spices. What these ‘spices’ actually are is still a trade secret, supposedly known to only six people, but probably includes Seville (bitter) orange peel, cloves and cinnamon; giving Pimm’s Original Cup a taste of orange, Madiera cake and milk chocolate.

Pimms WinterThe original gin-based Pimm’s became so popular that 5 other versions were brought out based on scotch, brandy, rum, rye and vodka. Most of the later versions lost their popularity as tastes changed so were gradually phased out. The remaining Original and Vodka versions were joined by the spicier Pimm’s Winter in October 2005, and now fruitier versions with Pimm's Blackberry and Elderflower and Limited Edition Strawberry with a hint of Mint, plus a cider and a frozen crush.

All Pimm’s are sold at 25 per cent alcohol by volume. This high level of alcohol is traditionally diluted by one-third with lemonade to give a long refreshing drink served in a tall Collins cocktail glass. Adding mint, strawberry, orange, cucumber and ice is suggested in many recipes, but it can turn your glass into more of a fruit salad than a drink. If you find adding lemonade makes the drink too sweet, as I do, try mixing your Pimm’s with tonic water (then it becomes a Sundowner cocktail), champagne (a Royale cocktail), pomegranate juice (a Pimm Pomm) or ginger ale.

If you don’t want to do the mixing yourself, Pimm's and lemonade is available ready in 250ml cans and 1-litre bottles. You’ll find the commercial mix uses five times as much lemonade as Pimm’s and so is much more dilute than any homemade version.

Pimms groupPG Wine Reviews

Pimm's No. 1 Cup (70cl) £8 Asda; £12 Waitrose, Tesco

Pimm's Vodka Cup (limited availability) £15.99 The Online OffLicence, £17.95 Lea & Sandeman

Pimm's Winter £16.50 WaitroseCellar

Pimm's Blackberry & Elderflower £12 (70cl) Waitrose, (1 litre) £16 Tesco

Pimm's Limited Edition Strawberry with a hint of Mint £12

Pimm's Summer Crush (250ml frozen pouch) £1.98 Asda, £2.50 Waitrose, £3 Tesco

Pimm's Cider Cup Strawberry & Cucumber (500ml) £1.83 Waitrose, £2 Asda, £2.29 Tesco

Pimm's No. 1 & Lemonade (250ml can) £1.87 Asda; £1.90 Waitrose, Tesco

Pimm's Blackberry and Elderflower (250ml can) £1.90 Waitrose, Tesco

Pimm's Strawberry & Lemonade (250ml can) £1.90 Waitrose, Tesco

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk