The NEW Chase Summer Fruit Cup (Vodka-based)

Last year, I sought out the Chase Summer Fruit Punch (Fruit Cup), which was made exclusively for Bistro du Van in Soho. I thought that the product had a lot of potential, so I was intrigued to see what this year would bring from Chase.

The answer? Chase Summer Fruit Cup. Master of Malt’s recent offering also uses the term “Summer Fruit Cup”, whilst Plymouth and Sipsmith use “Summer Cup” and Stone’s, “Fruit Cup”.

Unlike their 2011 variety, Chase Summer Fruit Cup is bottled at 20%ABV (rather than 40%ABV), but it continues to be based on vodka. Vodka-based Fruit Cups are not unheard of: Pimm’s have made a vodka-based No:6 cup since the 1960s and some other brands have also created vodka fruit cups at one time or another. That said, it is still a more unusual choice of spirit.

The Taste

All drinks were mixed one part Chase Summer Fruit Cup, three parts mixer.

with Lemonade
This has a very clean taste of lemon to start, with fewer deep, herbal notes and less bitterness than most gin-based fruit cups. Notably, it has more flavour than the lighter Pimm’s No:6, with tart blackcurrant and lighter, leafy green, herbal notes. This makes this drink perfect for late summer, being both light and comforting (reminding me somewhat of the “children’s cocktails” I used to have as a child, which were generally some variation on blackcurrant cordial and lemonade, although this is obviously more complex than that!).

with Ginger Ale
This makes for a more subtle drink, with the blackcurrant being balanced out well by the ginger ale. I used Canada Dry and a surprising amount of the ginger comes through (if you want even more fire, then I would suggest using Fevertree, Q or Fentiman’s latest offering). Once again, this lends itself to the months of August and September, what with the slightly warmer and more comforting notes.

with Bitter Lemon
Excellent; the fruity, slightly tart berry flavours work well with the crisp bitter lemon (I used Fevertree’s Lemon Tonic) to make an exceptionally refreshing drink, that would work especially well on a baking hot summer’s day. Delicious! Those who find many fruit cups too sweet should definitely try this!

with Tonic Water
I know at least one reader (he knows who he is) who prefers his fruit cup with tonic, and it’s not a bad drink in general. With Chase Summer Fruit Cup, it makes for
quite a dry drink with a fruity flick at the beginning, followed by tart berries and leafy green herbs on the finish. Clean, crisp and cooling. I used standard Schweppes and I thought that it worked well; with something like Fevertree, or Thomas Henry, I think the result would be even better.

In terms of seasonality, I think using Sparkling Elderflower or Rhubarb Lemonade would give the drink a more springtime feel and it could easily lend itself well to that. The ginger ale gives it an autumnal feel and the combinations with bitter lemon and tonic make superb summer sippers.

Negroni
I’m also keen to try fruit cups in some different contexts and so I decided to use it in the place of vermouth in a Negroni.
This make a lighter Negroni; one that was less herbal and cleaner. The Campari plays a strong role, maybe being even more dominant than usual, but it should appeal to
those who are fans of this bitter Italian drink, especially as a pre-dinner cocktail for the summer.

In Conclusion

Having tried last season’s fruit cup, I think that this is most certainly an improvement: the flavour is more balanced and complex, and bottling it at 20%ABV rather than 40%ABV makes it more accessible and has resulted in a far more suppable vodka-based cup.

Chase Summer Fruit Cup is available for around £22 for 70cl from The Champagne Company.

SummerFruitCup’s 2nd Birthday – Creating Pimm’s No:9, 10 and 11.

Today is Summer Fruit Cup’s Second Anniversary of our founding on 4th July 2010. In a tradition started last year, as a tribute to Pimm’s we shall be expanding our range of fruit cups based on other spirits. There will also be two seasonal Fruit Cups.

Just to recap, the initial 8 Pimm’s Cups are:

No.1 – Gin
No.2 – Scotch Whisky
No.3 – Brandy
No.4 – Rum
No.5 – Rye Whiskey
No.6 – Vodka

~
No.7 – Tequila
No.8 – Absinthe

Pimm’s No:09 – Islay Whisky Autumn Cup

Summer and Winter cups have been a regular fixture for the last five years, but there are two other seasons that are generally overlooked: Spring and Autumn. I definitely think that there is a place for Autumnal drinks that are cooling, but with some warm, spicy flavours behind them, and, with bountiful harvests at this time of year, there are plenty of seasonal fruits to use.

For the base of my Autumn Cup, I used a peaty whisky (but not an overpowering one): Black Grouse. I also used ginger wine (a natural match) and some red vermouth. I infused it with some orange peel, as I don’t really like lemon or lime with Islay whisky, and added some warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

Upon tasting following the initial maceration*, I found that it need a little extra smoky bite and so added a small measure of the intensely peaty Laphroaig Quarter Cask.

The Taste

With Lemonade:
The whisky immediately makes itself known on the nose – I caught a hint of the smokiness only a few seconds after DTS opened the bottle! When mixed, the smokiness on the nose is supported by hints of lime. The same smoked cheese smokiness was immediately evident when I took my first sip and gradually developed on the tongue over several minutes. The drink was light and balanced, but definitely smoky. Unexpectedly, the finish was more fruity than smokey, with citrus notes and a distinctive hint of cucumber at the back of the mouth. Overall, this worked incredibly well.

With Ginger Ale:
The nose was very much like that of a Whisky & Ginger. To taste, it was notably sweeter than the same Cup with lemonade, and, unlike that one, the smokiness definitely appeared on the finish, making it a far stronger flavour in the drink. It reminded me of a Whisky & Ginger with a smoky whisky and lemon, although the same hint of cucumber appeared at the end. As lovely as this was, I think the deliciously different flavour profile of the lemonade version would make it my preferred way of drinking this Fruit Cup.

Pimm’s No:10 – Irish Whisky Spring Cup

I find that Spring is the most difficult season to design cocktails around. Often, the resulting cocktails involve elderflower and, as much as I like this flavour, I wanted to try something else. After discussing it with some friends, the idea of using rhubarb and the lighter character of Irish Whiskey came about, and so I set to work.

The cup uses a combination of Irish Whiskey, ginger wine, red vermouth, Columbia Orange Liqueur, rhubarb and some spices. The whole mix was left to steep for about 24 hours.

The Taste

With Lemonade:
The nose was dominated by the garnish, in particular the cucumber and lime. To taste, it was very pleasant: the fruitiness of the garnish – especially the lemon – made it fresh and light. The whiskey appeared as a light woodiness on the finish, accompanied by a faint warmth. At the same time, there was a slight “tang” of rhubarb, although the sweetness of the lemonade meant that the finish didn’t become too dry. I was impressed at how light and refreshing this drink was, and how all of the flavours integrated together so well: none were particularly dominant, but it wasn’t at all dull.

With Ginger Ale:
As with lemonade, the nose was all about the garnish. To taste, though, there was an initial burst of lemon, followed by a much stronger note of rhubarb; I was amazed at how the ginger ale brought more of this flavour out! The creamy sweetness of the mixer went very well with the rhubarb notes, giving it a bit of a rhubarb crumble flavour and, again, the whisky appeared as a warm woodiness on the finish. This was my preferred way of drinking the Spring Fruit Cup, as I tasted far more of the Cup and less of the garnish. Delicious.

Pimm’s No:11 – Souchu Fruit Cup

Regular commenter FoodCat mentioned that she would like to see Souchu used as fruit cup base. Souchu is…. and the brand I used was Kigo, which is looked after by Cask Marketing. Unlike the other spirit bases, Souchu is bottled at a lower19.5%ABV, which meant that adding the flavour without losing the character of the Souchu would be trickier. One way that I set about this was to infuse it – very slightly (10mins) – with a good-quality green tea bag. I then added vermouth, ginger wine and left the mix to infuse with some peel and spice for about 12 hours.

The Taste

With Lemonade:
On the nose, there were hints of green tea, tannins and herbs. The taste was very intriguing, indeed: there was a fragrant, floral flavour to it that was backed up by a jammy, fruity alcohol note. After a while, I was also reminded of olives mixed with herbs. As different as this was, I thought it worked surprisingly well and was pleased that it “stood up” so well to the garnish. On the finish, I caught a hint of sweet ginger.

With Ginger Ale:
The nose changed slightly with ginger ale: a jammy sweetness with a hint of sweet ginger syrup. The taste developed more than with lemonade: it started with notes of herbs and olives, which faded into a more floral taste, with hints of green tea. This then developed again, to more of a sweet tea flavour, before gradually becoming more dry for the finish. Although incredibly interesting, I found this a tad too sweet to start, but would like to try it with a drier ginger ale.

In Conclusion

With this new celebration and tribute to Pimm’s , I set myself a bit more of a challenge, which is part of the fun and I was quit pleased with the results. I really like the Souchu cup and Mrs. favour the Irish Whiskey.

*With all of these home-made drinks, it is essential to taste them as you go along and adjust according to your own taste.

Organic Fruit/Summer Cup Recipe

I recently had a request from a gentleman on Twitter asking me about the availability of organic fruit cup.

I knew that no commercial product currently existed, but I thought that it wouldn’t be too much trouble to mix one up myself, using organic gin and organic vermouth, but then I found out that no-one currently makes organic vermouth!*

Intrigued by this gap in the market, I set about making my own, using my previous experience from making red vermouth. Starting from scratch, I made a fruit cup mix** (organic flavour-infused aromatized wine) that I could then mix with organic Gin/Vodka/Whisky to make a fruit cup that could then be mixed with organic lemonade.


My Recipe:
One bottle of Organic Red Wine (Italian Terra Viva Merlot 2010 – £6.99 Waitrose)
Juice and peel of one organic lemon and organic orange
Peel of half an organic cucumber
One organic tea bag, infused in the wine for 15 mins (Organic Earl Grey – £1.29 Waitrose)
Four dessert spoonfuls of organic brown sugar (the darker the better)
One stick of organic cinnamon

Add everything to a Kilner Jar and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Give it a taste and, if you are happy with the flavour, strain and bottle the mix; if not, leave for a little longer.
Blend the mix in equal parts with your spirit, for example Juniper Green Organic Gin, and then sit down to enjoy a glass of your very own organic fruit cup.

Organic Fruit Cup as enjoyed at The Feathers Gin Bar, Woodstock



Taste
I mixed the fruit cup 1 part Fruit Cup to 3 parts Belvoir Organic Lemonade.

The main point of a Fruit Cup is that it is refreshing and cooling; this version certainly ticks that box. There are sweet and tart elements in the drink and it is also quite citrusy. It is very refreshing and not too sweet, part of the freshness of the drink comes from the distinct taste from the cucumber peel. Easy to drink and rather moreish.

In Conclusion
My first batch was something of a cross between sangria and fruit cup, but if I could find some  organic bitter herb (wormwood, gentian, etc.) to use, I think it would have an additional depth of flavour. Using a darker sugar for the mix, or perhaps a little treacle, would also improve the drink.

* Speaking to Ian Hart of Sacred, who makes some fantastic vermouths, (and gin & vodka) organic vermouth is a bit tricky to come by, but not impossible.
** It doesn’t contain wormwood and so it isn’t vermouth.

A New Fruit Cup in Town – Oxford Original

 

During the current spell of warm weather in the UK, which can only be described as “Scorchio”, one of the better ways to cool down is with an iced jug of fruit cup. We recently published an update on the new Sipsmith Summer Cup, but today’s subject is even newer, as it was only released in April 2012.

Oxford Original is a fruit cup made by Manchester Drinks, the same folks who make the Authentic Cocktail Company premixes, and is bottled at 15%ABV. It was designed to be a more economical alternative to the likes of Pimm’s.

We decided to try it with three different mixers. Each glass contained a wedge of lemon, a wedge of lime and a cucumber spiral. All were mixed at a 3:1 Mixer:Fruit Cup ratio.

Ginger Ale
This is quite a sweet mix with the berry notes, especially strawberry, of the fruit cup really coming through. As the drink has mulled with the fruit a little bit it becomes fresher and more succulent.

Lemonade
Not as sweet as the ginger ale, quite light and the cucumber compliments the drink well. Notes of strawberry, vanilla and berry. I find a squeeze of lemon makes the drink even more refreshing. This would be a good drink for those that find Pimm’s too bitter; if you prefer the a more fruit cup I’d suggest adding a splash of red vermouth.

Tonic Water
Dry and more bitter with the citrus notes of the fruit cup really coming through. This one of the better fruit cups to mix with tonic water.

In Conclusion
It’s always refreshing (no pun intended) to see a fruit cup with a slightly different flavour profile and Oxford Original is certainly less herbal and more fruity, in particular with more berry notes, such as red currant, raspberry and strawberry.

Pimm’s No:8 Absinthe Cup & Tequila No:7 Fruit Cup Recipe


Pimm’s No:8 Absinthe Cup

A bottle of Pimm's No8 Absinthe Cup

A bottle of Pimm's No8 Absinthe Cup

It’s been a bit of a fruit cup special this week, what with a vintage fruit cup on Monday and Sipsmith Summer Cup on Wednesday, so today we’ll continue that theme. A little while back, for our first birthday, we created a tribute to the old Pimm’s Cups No. 2 to 7 (Scotch, Brandy, Rum Rye and Tequila); details can be found “here”. I’ve had a variety of ideas afterwards, one of which is now today’s feature: No. 8 Absinthe-based Fruit Cup.

Why Absinthe?
It’s a popular spirit at the moment and many of my friends and colleagues are enthusiastic about it; in addition, it fits in quite well with some of the vintage features of our site.

The Taste

Lemonade
There’s a good amount of anis, rather like pastis, but more fruity and with a more complex spiciness underlying the initial flavour. Refreshing, unusual and very tasty. Mrs. B loved it.
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Pimm’s No:7 Tequila Cup Recipe

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I’ve had a few requests for the fruit cup recipes that use different base spirits. I’ve been happy to give some pointers but, as I’m sure many readers can understand, everyone has their trade secrets. In addition, none of the recipes are precise: experimentation is the key; each of my fruit cup batches are slightly different. Nonetheless, as something of a consolation, I thought I would provide the basic recipe for a home-made Tequila Cup.

150ml Tequila Blanco

50ml Red/Sweet Vermouth

50ml Curacao

Peel of One Lime

One Cinnamon Stick

Combine the ingredients into a glass jar and seal.

Leave for 24 hours (or to taste), strain and bottle.

Mix 1 part fruit cup to 3 parts lemonade or ginger ale.

 

Sipsmith Summer Cup – Updated for 2012

So it’s time for summer again and sadly the original bottles of Sipsmith Fruit Cup have long since ben consumed amongst the smiling face of refreshed drinkers.
But fear not!
Sipsmith’s Summer Cup offering for 2012 has arrived with some bright new packaging, wider availability and great quantities, if you missed out last time now is your chance.

The new Sipsmith Summer Cup packaging for 2012 – notice the rather attractive branded cap.

Despite the new packaging the contents is just as suppable, flavourful and refreshing as the first one with almost no discernible difference to the original bottling. If anything the 2012 balance is better and the drink even more refreshing.
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I met with Sam, last year, just after the release of Sipsmith Summer Cup, a cooling Fruit Cup from the Sipsmith Distillery.* A I mentioned in a previous post I have a great fondness for all sorts of fruit cups and so I was very excited to go to the Sipsmith Distillery and try the new product.

Sam and I with the original packaging for Sipsmith Summer cup. (notice Prudence, Sipsmith’s still in the background.)

I was met by Sam and we spoke a little about the origins of Sipsmith Summer Cup; Sam said that they have wanted to create a Fruit Cup for a while, because there was something about a Fruit Cup that was different to most other drinks. I agree; to me, Fruit Cups are a different animal; they lend themselves very well to social functions, they have less of an impact than many other spirits based-drinks, and are easy to drink without being a fast-track to drunkenness.

“We wanted to make something dry, fruity, complex and balanced,” said Sam; “The key word being balanced.”

Sipsmith Summer Cup is based on Sipsmith Gin** and is bottled at 29%ABV, which brings it in-line with the “Old Pimm’s bottlings” and the rare Plymouth Fruit Cup. To the gin, they add a variety of other fruits, herb and spices, including Earl Grey tea, fresh Lemon Verbena and macerated cucumber.

The Summer Cup bottle is taller and thinner than that of their gin and vodka, and Sam explained that this was to create a lighter, leaner image for the product, reflecting the spirit that was inside. The label is familiar, if slightly stylised, and the bottle still has the distinctive thick base of the other Sipsmith products.

Sipsmith & Lemonade

The Taste

Own
Slightly opaque, with a nose of citrus, cucumber rind and herbs (maybe rosemary).
It tastes of citrus and leafy herbs, and is dry, with a hint of bitterness. There’s definitely a lot of flavour and a long finish. There is some sweetness, which is of a similar style to that of red vermouth.

Sipsmith have designed their Summer Cup to be dryer than most and this is reflected in their choice of suggested mixer: Fevertree Lemonade; this is dryer and made with cane sugar, and so is less sweet than its contemporaries. Although Sipsmith suggest simply adding “Seasonal Summer Fruits” I added Lemon, Lime, Orange and Mint. A cucumber slice works well too.

With Lemonade
Dry, herbal & complex, with flavours of citrus and cucumber rind coming through. It works well with the fruit and, in particular, the mint. It’s less sweet and more dry than most Fruit Cups and is very refreshing.
Mrs. B described it as savoury and leafy, with a hint of basil. There are some subtle tannins from the tea (especially on the finish) and a hint of bergamot; this helps to keep the drink quite dry. She also thought that it was not sickly or cloying, making it easy to drink. We both really like it.

With Ginger Ale
This was a completely different animal to the lemonade version; this mixer brings out a completely different side to the drink. It is more herbal and intense, with bitter leafy notes at the end, as well as something like cucumber rind or borage leaves.
Mrs. B thought that the flavour had a longer finish than the lemonade and was more complex, too.
Ginger ale is a great way to enjoy a different side to the Sipsmith Cup and is one of the few fruit cups I have tried where it makes a really discernible difference.

With Ice Tea
Initially, I thought this would be a really good idea, with the two tea elements working well together. The result was interesting and pretty much tastes like it has no alcohol in it. It’s not as refreshing as I thought it might be. There is clash between the iced tea (we used Lipton Lemon) and the Sipsmith Summer Cup. It’s OK, but not great; although, on further reflection, it may be right up some people’s street, especially if they like very dry drinks. For us, we’d like it a bit sweeter.

Sipsmith Summer Royale25ml Sipsmith Summer cup, Top up with Champagne.
This was recommended to me by the Sipsmith Master Distiller. If you like ti a little sweeter add a small sugar cube.
I enjoyed this drink, it was dry an herbal and far more crisp and refreshing then many champagne cocktails, the lemon verbena comes through well give the drink a  floral citrus note a similar flavour comes from the Earl Grey too.

When tasting the product on it’s own, I did notice some similarities to a home-made red vermouth that I created for our Red Vermouth tasting, and this made me start to think about using the Fruit Cup as a substitute for vermouth. Sam seemed to be inspired by this idea when I mentioned it to him, and started searching for pen and paper so as not to forget it. Here are some of my experiments, once I got home:

Negroni - Equal parts Sipsmith Summer Cup, Sipsmith Gin and Campari
The nose was herbaceous, intense, and slightly bitter. It tasted soft, smooth and bitter-sweet; more floral and even more intense than a normal Negroni. There was also a little touch of cucumber and it was quite dry, with a good level of fresh bitterness. Mrs. B is not a Negroni fan, but she quite liked this and thought that it would make a “nice aperitif”.

Manhattan - 2 Parts Rye Whisky, 1 Part Sipsmith Summer Cup, Dash of Angostura – STIR
Rather soft and subtle, and quite tasty. Less herbal than the same cocktail made with standard vermouth. It was both sweet and bitter at the end.

The jury is out on whether this is our preference to using red vermouth – I think more experimentation is needed.

Martinez 2 Parts Sipsmith Gin, 1 Part Sipsmith Summer Cup, Dash of Angostura – STIR
Very smooth and quite soft, but still with a lot flavour. I think it works well and there are long, rich herbal notes on the finish. There’s a pleasant citrus crispness, making it a very clean drink. Pretty good.

The Current Sipsmith Range: Summer cup, Damson Vodka, Sloe Gin, Vodka and Gin.

In Conclusion

I think that Sipsmith Summer Cup is an excellent addition to the Fruit Cup world and, without a doubt, brings something new to the market. It’s over-riding strength (although it has others) is the fact that it is dryer and not too sweet. Hopefully this will open up the category to folks who don’t have a sweet tooth. I also think this Summer Cup has potential versatility as a cocktail ingredient; something that is not often seen in a Fruit Cup. I highly recommend it.

Sipsmith Summer Cup is available from The Whisky Exchange at £18.95 for 50cl.

A Bottle of the New Sipsmith summer Cup

*Sipsmith call their product, “Summer Cup”; Hayman’s called theirs, “Summer Mixer”; and I usually refer to them all as Fruit Cups – they are all interchangeable terms.

**A vodka version was tried, but the complex gin flavours won over the creamy barley notes of the vodka.
*** There are a few other companies that have made damson vodka for a little while, so it’s obviously a combination that works.
**** Sloe Gin is released a year after production: if it’s made from the 2010 harvest, then it will be released in 2011, etc..

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Recreating the Long Lost Pimm’s Cups – Scotch, Rum, Rye & Tequila.

To mark our Second birthday on Wednesday July 4th 2012 I shall be revealing details of Cups No: 8, 9, 10 and 11.

With a name like Summer Fruit Cup, it seems fitting that, on the site’s first birthday, we should be writing about this summer cooler. We have previously looked at garnishes, the different varieties available and even making your own, but, for many, Fruit Cup is synonymous with Pimm’s Cup.

The variety that is most popular today is the No.1 Cup, which is gin-based, but between 1851 and 1970 five additional varieties of Pimm’s were available, each with a different base alcohol.

No.1 – Gin
No.2 – Scotch Whisky
No.3 – Brandy
No.4 – Rum
No.5 – Rye Whiskey
No.6 – Vodka

L:R Gin, Scotch, Brandy, Rum, Rye Whisky, Vodka, Tequila

But with exception of No.6 (and a reformulated brandy version), these cups haven’t been available since 1970; some vintage bottles sell for upwards of £100. After some encouraging feedback on my Lemon & Orange Gin recreations from Erik & Brad, I decided to try my hand at making some recreations of these long lost cups, as a tribute to Pimm’s and the varieties that were once made.

I’ve had some experience making home-made fruit cup and so, armed with some vintage samples and following conversations with the Master Distiller of Plymouth Gin, I set to work.
My research had shown that Pimm’s (pre-1970) was 60 proof (31.53% ABV) this reduced to 55 proof (28.90% ABV) and, today, is only 25% ABV. I aimed to make my cups at 60 proof.

Once the cups had been created, using various herbs, spices and citrus fruits, they were ready to taste. I decided to try each fruit cup with standard lemonade (lemon-soda – R White’s is our favourite) and ginger ale. It is worth noting that, as the No.1 and No.6 cups are in their original formula, these were excluded from the tasting notes.*

No.2 – Scotch

This cup was unusual in the sense that I have actually tried the Original No.2 Pimm’s Cup and so could perform a comparative tasting and tweak the recipe accordingly. I used a blended scotch, White and Mackay, as my base; I thought that this was a pretty standard scotch (and I happened to have a bottle). If you used an Islay that was very peaty, for example, the result would be very different and the recipe would need to tweaked for sure.

Lemonade
Of all the fruit cups that we tried, this was the most similar to the No.1 Gin Cup; it had a very similar consistency and mouthfeel. The whisky certainly came through: woody and oaky, with a touch of smoke. There were some fruit and ginger notes and quite a long finish. It had a slight, sweet viscosity, but this didn’t upset the drink balance.

When fruit was added, it opened up the flavour a bit and made it more refreshing. Overall, this was a little warmer than the No.1 and may work well served hot.

Ginger Ale
Sweeter than the lemonade version, and the flavours of scotch are more subtle. With ice and fruit it was very refreshing but, for us, just a bit too sweet.

No.3 – Brandy

The jury is till out on whether or not Pimm’s Winter is the same as, or just similar to, the original Pimms No.3 Brandy Cup. The modern bottle does state that it now has added orange zest and spice, but, as almost all fruit cups are blended with spices and citrus, I’m not sure that means much. If I find out, I will let you know.

Lemonade
When mixed with lemonade, the brandy cup had flavours of dark sugar, brandy and sugar/brandy snaps, along with warmth from the brandy. The flavour of the spirit come through more than the others, and was somewhat reminiscent of fruit cake. The flavours seemed quite rounded and there was a long finish. It improved when the garnish was added.

Ginger Ale
Notes of brandy at the beginning were followed by some vanilla and ginger, making this combination rather wintery. This is less complex than the same cup mixed with lemonade and so is a little bit easier to drink.

No:4 – Rum

I also have a sample of the original Pimm’s No.4 Rum cup and it is evident that it is made using dark rum. Given my fondness for the “English-style” of rums – Lamb’s, Skipper and Goslings – that is the style of rum that I used. Like scotch, the type of rum you use would make a lot of difference to your resultant fruit cup.

Lemonade
Packed with flavour, the rum came through well. There was also a little sherbet, molasses, spice and citrus; it was rich and complex, and had a very long finish. We thought that this worked well with lots of ice, but maybe an alternative garnish needs to be found, as we prefered this version without one.

Ginger Ale
Dark sugar comes through again, along with a more bitter-herbal twang. Intense, complex and rather delicious, this had a flavour of a similar intensity to the lemonade, but the finish was much shorter.

All in all, we both preferred the rum cup with lemonade (just).

No.5 – Rye

Before being introduced in the UK, this was sold in Canada and, for that reason, it seemed logical to use Canadian Rye in the recreation.

Lemonade
Mrs B. found this fruity, refreshing and easy to drink. There was a sweetness of some sort of old-fashioned boiled sweet (but she couldn’t quite put her finger on which) and it had a long, growing flavour, like Pimm’s No.1.
Although I liked it and agreed that it was light and refreshing, moving towards the style of the old Stone’s Fruit Cup, after the full flavours of the others, this one, for me, was a little disappointing.

Ginger Ale
A bit syrupy with sweet ginger notes, but still quite nice. I preferred this to the lemonade, as it seemed to have more flavour, but it was still quite light, in a similar way to the No.6 Vodka Cup.

No.6 – Vodka

As this variety still exists, there was no recreation.

No.7 – Tequila

As with most of the fruit cups, a decision had to made about the base spirit for tequila: Blanco vs. Gold? I opted for Blanco, as I thought it would make a lighter product.

Lemonade
This had a strong nose of tequila, with lime and a little vanilla. We both found this somewhat of a departure from the usual Pimm’s flavours, but, regardless of this, a common thread still seemed to run between them all; this was certainly still a fruit cup.
The tequila flavour is prevalent, but not over-powering and this is very refreshing drink, with both sweet and savoury notes. We found that it improved with a fruit garnish, which took off any harsh edge that the alcohol had had. Unusual, but lovely.

Ginger Ale
Sweet ginger notes, akin to gingerbread. Tequila still prominent along with some citrus fruits. Full of flavour and a close contender to the lemonade version but it is the lemonade that just has the edge.

Unlike with lemonade, with ginger ale, we found that the fruit garnish (cucumber, at least) detracted from the drink a bit. Still, a pretty nice cooler.

In Conclusion

We were delighted at how well the different spirits worked and it’s certainly a shame that they were discontinued, but, with the resurgence of Fruit Cups (I know of two well-known gin distillers that have just created Fruit Cups; one for general sale and the other as an exclusive to a bar chain), maybe we’ll see some more experimentation.

My favourites were the Rum & the Tequila Cups.
Mrs B’s were the Rye & the Scotch.

The Future

I have some plans to look at other fruit cups in the future and I have already made a sample of a “No.8” cup; watch this space…

*For more details on these click here and here respectively.

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Vodka Pimm’s – The Mystery of Pimm’s No.6 Vodka Cup



Frequent visitors to the site may have guessed that we’re both rather fond of Fruit Cup (Pimm’s and the like); rather fitting, given the site’s name. But one fruit cup that is often over-looked is one that is vodka, rather than gin, based*; I am, of course, talking about Pimm’s (No.6) Vodka Cup. This was the sixth variety of Pimm’s to be introduced; for those who may not be familiar with the varieties, here is a quick rundown of all those that have, at some point, been available:

No.1 – Gin (1840 – Present)
No.2 – Scotch Whisky (1851 – 1970)
No.3 – Brandy (1851 – 1970)
No.3 – As a variant of the original with added spices (2005 – Present)
No.4 – Rum (1935 – 1970)
No.5 – Rye Whiskey (1964 – 1970)
No.6 – Vodka (1964 – 1970, then 1970 – Present)

The No.6 Cup was added to the line-up in the UK at the same time as No.5 (Rye); the latter had previously has a successful launch in Canada. This was a time when international business was booming and Pimm’s wanted to tap into the American Whisky and Vodka market.

When the business was sold in to Distilling Company Ltd.** in 1969, some pretty serious “rationalisation” took place and all but the most popular No.1 Cup were discontinued. No.6 is interesting in that it was a favourite of the wife of the chairman of the new company and so she persuaded him to restart production, albeit in very limited quantities. As such, the production of No.6 only stopped for a few months at the most.

Originally, Pimm’s No.6 was known simply as a “Vodka Sling”, just as No.1 was known as a “Gin Sling”. However, today, it is described (on the label) as a “Vodka Cup” and any allusion to its numerical designation has been renegated to the back of the label.

Like the other cups, the Original Pimm’s No.6 bottle suggested a garnish of lemon and borage or cucumber, whereas today it recommends lemon, orange, apple, cucumber and mint.

The Taste

The flavour of No.6 is less intense than the gin-based No.1, and not just because vodka is typically smoother and less flavorsome than gin, but also because the mix of herbs and citrus seems lighter in this version. I’d say it was a little sweeter and a touch syrupy, even when diluted 3:1 with lemonade.

When choosing a lemonade, I would steer away from anything too sweet; perhaps Fevertree Lemonade, which tends to be a bit sharper, would be a good choice. Despite these differences though Pimm’s No.6 Vodka Cup is still exceptionally refreshing and rather moreish.

*I did once come across another Vodka-based Fruit Cup.

** Distillers Company was then purchased by Guinness in 1986 and merged with another of their subsidiaries (Arthur Bell & Sons) to create United Distilling. in 1997 Guinness merged with Great Metropolitan to form Diageo the Pimm’s Brand came as well. Thus the brand is now owned by Diageo.

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Home-made Fruit Cup; a low-cost alternative.

With the beautiful weather we’ve been having over the past few days (and on a Bank Holiday!) as well as the interest in the last few days in my Fruit Cup Tasting (thank you for all the kind comments) I thought I’d give a little more detail on my home-made alternative.

The ingredients for Home-made Fruit Cup

The ingredients for Home-made Fruit Cup

Fruit Cup#1

The Figures

(How much does it cost?)

Bellino Rosso Apertif (£2.79 for 70cl at Tesco)

Green’s Ginger Wine (£3.22 for 70cl at Tesco)

Using the above recipe you can make 2.1 litres of Fruit Cup for just £9.33 (that’s £4.44 per litre) When you combine this with being able to buy two litres of commercial for £26 (and that’s a good deal) it is a significant saving.

Mixing this One part Fruit Cup to three parts Lemonade/Ginger Ale gives you over 4 pitchers* worth of Fruit Cup drink.

If you fancy a drink with a bit more punch and a bit stronger may I suggest this recipe:

In Conclusion

I think Fruit Cup #1 is great if you’re having quite a few folks around for a BBQ or party as it’s tasty, refreshing and cheap. I mixed some up for a friends 50th Birthday party and it was the first to drink to run out. However I don’t think it is as good as the like of Pimm’s or Plymouth but probably represents better value for money.

Fruit Cup #2 has more flavour and is stronger (it has Gin in it) but it is a more expensive alternative than #1. In the end it depends on exactly what you’re looking for but whether you use #1, #2 or a Commercial brand it’s safe to say that Fruit Cups are one fo the best ways to relax and cool off with friends on a gloriously sunny day.

* My Pimm’s Pitchers hold 1.5 litres each

Fruit Cup Tasting – Beyond Pimm’s

Many readers will be familiar with the most popular brand of Fruit Cup, Pimm’s, but let me introduce you to its lesser-known competition. What is a Fruit Cup? It’s a spirit or fortified wine-based drink bottled at between 10% and 30%ABV it is infused with various herbs and spices and if often lengthened by adding lemonade, ginger ale or apple juice. A fruit garnish and plenty of ice is part of the typical serve.

With the sunny start of the Bank Holiday, we took the opportunity to take to the garden and taste a variety of fruit cups. We mixed 35ml of cup with 105ml of lemonade (our preference was R Whites), we added ice, and a garnish of lemon, orange, cucumber and mint. We assessed each drink in terms of the overall taste, how refreshing and how “moreish” (did you wish to drink more) it was.

Summer Fruit Cups: From Left to Right: Jeeves, Pimms, Plymouth, ASDA, Stones, Players, Austins, Pitchers.

Here are the results:

Player’s Original Punch21.5%ABV                                                   j  Produced by Lamb & Watt of Liverpool, Player’s may be a little trickier to come by, and appears to be mostly found in specialist off licences these days, but it is well worth the effort. Player’s sweet, fruity style is what one would typically expect from a good summer fruit cup. This summery drink is very refreshing and perfect to enjoy on a sunny day. If you are looking for a very traditional, yet refreshing, fruit cup flavour, this would be your best bet.

Player’s is now available from Asda at around £6 for 70cl

Austin’s – 21.9%ABV -                       Available from Aldi                               y Aldi’s offering has an attractive price tag. It has a similar flavour to Pimm’s and I know folks who use it as an affordable substitute. That said, it does not have a very strong flavour and when mixed with lemonade it struggles to add anything to the flavour of the mixer. With time, ice melt and the infusion of the garnish the flavour improves but it is not nearly as refreshing nor is it as moreish as some of the others we tried. A garnish is essential with this one.


Pimm’s No.1 Gin Cup – 25%ABV      Available in most supermarkets and off-licences   Owned by drink’s giant Diageo, Pimm’s is the oldest and the best known fruit cup. Although there are other varieties of Pimm’s (such as Vodka No.6), we tasted No.1 (gin based). The Pimm’s flavor was surprisingly not as strong as some of its contemporaries and was also quite sweet. The aftertaste of sherbet lemons was both unique and pleasant. A drink that was both refreshing and relatively moreish. This was Mrs B’s favourite before we started and, although we both enjoyed it, in comparison to the others it was rather middle-of-the-road.

Jeeves – 17.5%ABV - Available from Tesco           This drink clings to the mouth, it has a strong but unpleasant flavour, similar to bitter herbs which was somewhat reminiscent of old vermouth. This was neither refreshing nor moreish. Less than half the price of Pimm’s, but not even half as good. However, the drink did improve as the ice started to melt.

Fruit Cup, Lemonade and Garnish – Lovely

Plymouth Fruit Cup – 30%ABV            Available from Plymouth Gin Distillery and selected off-licences.                                                                                           A complex flavour of herbs and spices, which reminds me of Italian vermouth with a good balance of sweetness and bitterness. This cup has the highest alcoholic strength, which gives it a little more of a punch but it’s certainly not too much. With the exception of the Stones cup, this was the most unique with a flavour which is full, but not overpowering. Plymouth Fruit cup produces a cool and refreshing drink and certainly leaves you wanting more.

It also worth noting that Plymouth also suggest trying mixing their cup with ginger ale; we tried this later and were inclined to agree that it improved the drink further. Definitely one of our favourites.
I’m not sure how much more of Plymouth Fruit Cup Plymouth will be making, so if you want some, buy it when you see it.

ASDA Summer Fruit Cup - 15%ABV - Available from ASDA             This divided opinion (who would have thought a fruit cup could be controversial!), one of us enjoyed the low-key sweet fruitiness and more prevalent herbal notes, which are somewhat reminiscent of peppered celery; the other found the taste and smell overpowering, and the drink unrefreshing.

Stones Summer Cup – 13.5% ABV                                                                     This is produced by the makers of the famous Ginger Wine of the same name and is marketed as a light version of their ginger wine. This has a different flavour but it was a break-away that worked well, it stands away from the crowd and looks pretty good. The flavour has a little spice and a small hint of ginger: it is fresh and refreshing. The drink was complimented nicely by the garnish.

It is worth noting that Stone’s suggest mixing their drink one part of cup to four parts of lemonade. When we subsequently tried another drink, mixed to these proportions, the difference was a very pleasant surprise as the edge of the flavour was taken off and the drink became incredibly refreshing and easily the most drinkable. An excellent option, particularly if you are looking for an option which isn’t as strong as Pimm’s.
This Product is now, very sadly,  discontinued however I find a mix of 2 parts Stones Ginger Wine and One Part Red/Sweet Vermouth is a good substitute.
Pitchers – 25% ABV - Available from Sainsbury’s                                            Very close in terms of flavour, strength and even packaging to Pimm’s and priced at over £10 a bottle, this is the most expensive of the more generic varities we tried. However it is one of the better ones; although it clings a little to the mouth initially, the drink was refreshing with a balance of sweetness and spice that was, fortunately, not too sweet. This, made up in a jug, and shared with friends would be lovely…
Sipsmith Summer Cup – % ABV Available from Waitrose & Majestic                                            V
Oxford Originals – % ABV                                             V

In Conclusion

My favourite was Stones Fruit Cup (although the home-made substitute is easy to make and also pretty good) so now the clear winner is Plymouth followed by Players. Pimm’s clearly beats most of the supermarket own-brand and whilst Pitcher’s puts up a good fight at a price similar, or sometime above Pimm’s is worth switching?If you want a cheap alternative that is still pretty good I would suggest Austin’s or, even better, a home-made mix of ginger wine and red vermouth – I have used even the cheapest of ingredients; Ginger Wine £4 a litre, Bellino “Vermouth” £2.50 for 70cl that works out at just £3.83 a litre.

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*more varieties of Pimm’s used to be available (No2-5; Scotch, Brandy Rum & Rye, respectively) and we keen to experiment with Tequila, Bourbon, Cachaca, White rum etc. too. Pimm’s No7…?

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