Ah, the dog days of summer.  The sound of crickets, the buzz of cicadas, the jubilant cries of undergraduates as they reunite on college campuses everywhere, and the litter of beer bottles each Sunday morning.

Summer is the time for light reading, a time to dispense with financial reports, pronouncements of the impending collapse of scholarly publishing, or the launch of yet another Web 2.0 venture.  Its time to relax and enjoy one — just one — piece of fiction.

Summer is also the time of cool drinks, pale wheat beers and dry white wines to accompany light summer fare.  Our Scholarly Chicken is very fond of a summer drink called Pimm’s.

Scholarly Chicken with Pimm's and book
Scholarly Chicken with Pimm's and book

Most Americans have never heard of Pimm’s, which is probably a good thing, because talking about something exotic makes the Scholarly Chicken look cultured and eclectic.  Pimm’s, however, is a popular drink in Britain, especially amongst the literati and those who enjoy a lazy afternoon punt down the River Cherwell in Oxford.

Like most British alcoholic drinks, Pimm’s was first prepared as a health tonic, which still remains a good excuse for partaking to this day.  Whilst the healthful benefits of red wine on cardiovascular longevity (aka the French Paradox) have lost much of its credibility due to some unwelcome results published in the medical literature, Pimm’s has luckily escaped the skeptical eyes of modern science.

Pimm’s (No. 1 Cup) is a gin-based drink.  The ingredients of what makes Pimm’s is rumored to be a closely-held secret.  This is a good thing, like not watching the kitchen staff in a seedy restaurant prepare your food or not hearing the mumbled expletives uttered by a copy editor as she works on your manuscript.

Pimm’s can be consumed straight, or on ice (as preferred by the Scholarly Chicken).  To impress your friends, however, a cocktail is in order.

Pimm’s Cocktail:

  • 2 oz Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
  • 6 oz lemonade, ginger ale or plain soda
  • slices of cucumber, oranges, lemons, limes and green apple
  • place cocktail in tall glass with ice
  • garnish with a sprig of mint

Pick up that book you purchased sometime in college and told yourself that you should read someday and retire to a public location where others will take notice.  When answering the inquiries of passers-by, assume a cultured accent.  This will become easier after a few Pimm’s — believe me, I know.

Cheers and happy reading!

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Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. He has a Ph.D. in science communication from Cornell University (2010), extensive experience as a science librarian (1995-2006) and was trained as a life scientist. https://phil-davis.com/


3 Thoughts on "Summer Reading and Drinking"

Don’t sell us Americans short. Anyone who has spent significant time in New Orleans, particularly at the Napolean House, knows Pimms and Pimms Cups very well. Perfect for beating the thick Louisiana heat.

my old buddy jake used to order a pimm’s cup every time we went to ‘von trier’ in milwaukee, back in 1984. she was under age. von trier served it in a copper cup (traditional, is it not?), which enhances the flavor beautifully. whatta gal, that jake. wonder where she is now.

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