Image credit: The Napoleon House, NOLA
“Cocktails and storytelling go together like mixed drinks.” - Laura Carlson, The Feast podcast
When it comes to cocktail history, there are a thousand good stories, and the truth is not necessary to most yarn-spinners. Let’s try to untangle a bit of lore and history around drinks so popularized that Americans claim them even though their histories and influence are global.
It’s British. It’s American. It’s NOLA’s. No it’s Not.
The herbed gin called Pimm’s No. 1 was invented in London by James Pimm, owner of the London Oyster Bar. As you can guess by the “No. 1” there are other infused versions of the gin, but the most popular has remained Pimm’s No. 1. But this isn’t a liquor lesson; it’s a cocktail history and that means we need to add mixers.
The Pimm’s Cup, now sometimes called the Pimm’s Original, adds citrus fruit, strawberries, cucumber, and mint, all topped with a fizzy lemonade. This drink originated in the UK, which might make sense to us since James Pimm invented the gin in London, but thanks to colonialism the drink spread across the globe and one day, a New Orleans bartender offered a version of the drink, and NOLA claimed it as their own.
The story goes that The Napoleon House wanted a drink that satisfied thirsty visitors in the hot, humid climate, but they didn’t want patrons to get too drunk too quickly lest they stop buying. Pimm’s No. 1 provided the answer since it is only 25% alcohol by volume. The NOLA version also adds fruit and fizzy lemonade, so a pop like Sprite, 7UP or Squirt. But the NOLA Pimm’s Cup generally leaves out the mint and loads up the fruit.
Wherever You Roam
We aren’t sure if Pam Stump was inspired by her own travels or if she learned it from a friend, but this is a great example of how recipes travel. The NOLA style found its way into Savoring Saginaw.
Pam Stump’s Pimm’s Cup
2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
1 oz. gin
Green apple wedge, orange slice, lemon slice, lime slice
In tall glass with ice, add Pimm’s, gin and fill with diet Squirt. Add long cucumber stick (with peel) for stirring. Garnish with fruit on a skewer. Makes 1.
Pam Stump: Stirring Art
“Art is an act of love. You do because it is a way of communicating to anyone who wants to listen. If I could make one piece of sculpture say something the way art has touched me, I would feel it has all been worthwhile.”
Pamela Stump Walsh quoted in The Saginaw News, January 10, 1965
Pamela Stump was an artist and teacher. Although accomplished in numerous mediums, she is most often recognized for her sculptures. Much of her life was spent in the Detroit area; however, Saginaw was her home for many years. Her work is found in collections throughout the country. Numerous examples in Saginaw record her lasting connection to the community and may be seen at the Dow Event Center, Saginaw’s St. Paul Episcopal Church, the former Douglas MacArthur High School, SVSU, Delta College and several other locations and private collections.
Born in 1928, her 2007 Detroit Free Press obituary, provides an outline of her life:
“Born in Detroit, she attended Kingswood School Cranbrook for Girls on a 4-year scholarship. She graduated from the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Design with a bachelor's degree in 1950 and a master's degree a year later. That same year, she married David Walsh, a pilot and engineer in the Air Force, and started raising a family while they crisscrossed the country.
After the couple divorced, she returned to school, received a teaching degree from U-M in 1968, and began instructing at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills a year later. She retired in 1990.
“As a teacher, she encouraged her students to express their independence and use their imaginations,” said her second husband, Richard White, whom she married in 1989.”
Her work is varied, complicated and intriguing. A description of her personality from a Saginaw News article captures an essential element of work:
“She calls herself both persistent ("an artist has to be") and impatient. Noticing the paradox, she laughs. "I am always changing. What I want one moment Is not what I wa