When asked what makes for a perfect summer cocktail, Gary Crunkleton reaches for Pimm’s. The gin-based liqueur dates back to the early 1820s, when James Pimm of Kent, England debuted the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup at his oyster house. Pimm’s has a rosy color and distinct notes of citrus and spice, giving it what Crunkleton calls an “herbal, botanical flavor.” During Pimm’s nearly two-century-long run, the brand has produced Scotch, brandy, rum, rye, and vodka, but the No. 1 Cup remains the most popular blend.
Crunkleton, who has been bartending for more than twenty years, has two eponymously named North Carolina bars and a love for historical cocktails. At his newest, the Crunkleton Charlotte, opened in December, he makes a Pimm’s cup modeled after the traditional English recipe, but with a twist. Rather than using premade ginger beer or ginger ale, he whips up his own ginger syrup, adding a dash of sugar and apple cider. Crunkleton’s only catch: Slow sipping is a must to experience the drink’s full scale of flavors.
“It’s refreshing, but ginger gives it more depth,” Crunkleton says. “If I make a drink that you drink too fast, then I don’t feel like I’m doing my job.”