Last summer, my best friend Holly and I started a new tradition of trying different recipes with specific kinds of alcohol. We had mixed success; tequila and mac and cheese was a surprisingly delicious combination, while Fireball cupcakes were better in theory than in practice. We planned on doing this every month, but unfortunately we don’t have the best follow-through and didn’t do anything for the next year. Last month, however, we decided to start it up again, and at Holly’s suggestion, we chose to experiment with Pimm’s-a spiced fruit English liqueur. Neither Holly and I had tried it before, and besides the popular English summer cocktail, the Pimm’s Cup, we couldn’t find many recipes using it, so we settled on three: the classic Pimm’s Cup, Pimm’s Cupcakes, and a Pimm’s marinade of Holly’s own creation that we used on cod.
- Pimm’s Cup
Most Pimm’s cup recipes I found called for lemonade or ginger ale as a mixer, but the one Holly found actually used Sprite, and because we were lazy and didn’t feel like wandering around the crowded Aldi where we bought most of our ingredients, we grabbed a nearby box of generic-brand lemon-lime soda and hoped for the best. I was nervous when I opened the Pimm’s bottle and sniffed its contents. “It smells like wop,” I told Holly, grimacing, referring to the disgusting mess of spiked punch popular at frat parties (not that I would know anything about that…I definitely never spent any weekends my sophomore year awkwardly dancing to crappy pop music and spilling cheap, sticky jungle juice all over myself in the TKE house…). Still, I mixed it in with the sprite and slices of lemon and cucumber, topping each drink with a couple mint leaves. Fortunately, the cocktail tasted nothing like wop; it was a little citrusy, but mostly tasted like a familiar spice-Holly guessed nutmeg- and the combination with the citrus and mint was really refreshing. I can understand why it’s such a popular summer drink in England, and I would absolutely have it again.
- Pimm’s-Marinated Cod
We couldn’t really find any savory Pimm’s-based dishes, so Holly decided to get creative. She combined the liqueur with sliced strawberries, oranges, and chopped jalapenos into an improvised marinade, which she used to pan-broil a couple cod fillets. The result was delicious; despite the orange and strawberry, the marinade wasn’t too sweet- I think the Pimm’s actually helped mellow it out- and the jalapeno gave it a nice kick. The only downside was that neither of us know how to properly cook fish, so the texture was a little chewy, but considering the purpose of the experiment was to make something tasty using Pimm’s, I would call the dish a success.
- Pimm’s Cupcakes
After the Fireball cupcake disaster last year, I was a little nervous to try this one, but unlike the Fireball one, I found an actual recipe for this one on Lay the Table, a gorgeous food blog created by someone who actually knows what she’s doing and doesn’t just substitute water for booze in cake batter and expect it not to taste like garbage, the way Holly and I did last time. I didn’t make the batter from scratch because I am way too lazy, opting instead for a boxed mix, but I did want to try to make the buttercream frosting myself. I’m normally the “buy a can of frosting and eat most of it with a spoon instead of putting it on the baked goods” kind of girl, so I was a little nervous about making homemade buttercream for the first time, but I was proud to see it thicken into a sweet, creamy, confection- until Holly decided to dump the entire saucepan of mashed strawberries and strawberry juice we needed for coloring and flavor into the bowl rather than measuring it out. Thanks, bestie. Luckily, adding more powdered sugar-a LOT more powdered sugar- transformed it from a watery, chunky mess into a pale pink creamy glaze. I added the grated and chopped orange rind, mint, and cucumber, and mixed it into the glaze. We ended up only making six cupcakes before just deciding to use the rest of the batter to make one big cake because we are very impatient people. We were very happy with the results; the frosting/glaze was light and refreshing (who would have thought of putting cucumber in a dessert?!), although because we had to add so much extra powdered sugar, it was almost a little TOO sweet. I would definitely try this again- with the correct measurements this time.
While we weren’t able to find as many recipes this time, I was happy with the outcome of the ones we did try. However, I don’t what the likelihood is that I would make any of them again; Pimm’s seems like the kind of thing I would buy for one cocktail and then have collecting dust in a kitchen cupboard for a couple years. The cupcakes were delicious, but I feel like I could use the same recipe without the Pimm’s and it would still taste just as good. Same for the marinade; while Pimm’s is good in a cocktail, it’s such a mellow flavor that using it for cooking is kind of pointless because it’s overpowered by other flavors. Still, it was an overall success, and I can’t wait to decide what our next boozy ingredient will be. If you have any suggestions, let me know!