A traditional Pimm's Cup is just Pimm's No. 1 with lemonade or ginger ale, but this raised the bar

There comes a point each summer when you feel impervious to the magic of beer. You have drunk so much of it that it neither intoxicates nor refreshes. We hit that point on the Fourth of July as we downed our 12th Natty Boh around the time the music started at First Thursday in Mount Vernon Square. We went across the street to George's (101 W. Monument St., [410] 727-1314), where 2012's "Best Bartender" John Hartzell was whipping up what he calls Pimm's Punch ($9).

Though we were celebrating kicking British ass, Pimm's No. 1, a reddish gin-based liqueur with citrusy overtones, is also a favorite at Wimbledon, so it felt kind of timely to those friends of ours with a canine-esque interest in watching yellow balls bounce across grass.

But refreshment is the main thing. A traditional Pimm's Cup is just Pimm's No. 1 with lemonade or ginger ale, but Hartzell raised the bar, putting cucumber, fresh mint, lemon, and strawberries into the bottom of the glass and muddling them. Then he poured equal parts Pimm's and Hendrick's Gin and topped the whole thing off with a bit of lemonade. This Pimm's punch did what beer no longer could: It cooled us down and got our buzz going. And somehow it felt refreshing and hearty-like a light afternoon replacement for a Bloody Mary.

The newly reopened Chesapeake (1701 N. Charles St., [410] 547-2760, thechesapeakebaltimore.com) has a similar drink called the Mother Goose and Pimm ($10), which is made with Pimm's, lemon, ginger, cucumber, and mint. It is sparkly, like they used ginger ale, which lent an extra-peppy quality. It wasn't quite as hearty or as refreshing as George's, but we'll definitely order it again-and experiment with our own mixtures at home.

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