A general introduction
When the term ‘Fruit Cup’ is being mentioned, for most people, there’s little that comes to mind. Bartenders (and most likely British ones for that matter), might drop the name ‘Pimm’s’, but even then, especially outside of the United Kingdom, it won’t really ring much of a bell. Mind-blowing, if you realize how mythical the brand, its product and its history in fact are, dating back as far as the Victorian Era, over 150 years ago!
For the long version on the history of Pimm’s, and the Fruit Cup in general, I’ll link you to an amazing article on Difford’s Guide)
Mind you, Pimm’s isn’t the only player on the field. There’s several others (most notably Sipsmith), who have release their own craft version of the Aperitif… heck, even the legendary Chef Heston Blumenthal had his own version on the market in 2014 and decades before, people used to make their own versions at home (much like Sloe Gins).
Yet still, Pimm’s easily reigns supreme, connected to the product as strongly as Pampers to diapers and Bic to pens. But all without much fuss, because I can toss around facts as much as I want, most of you still won’t have a clue what I’m talking about.
Fun Fact: even though it’s so unknown, during the Wimbledon Tournament, more than 450.000 glasses of Pimm’s are served over the course of just a couple of days, each year!
Now what is it?
The Fruit Cup is essentially a spirit-based, botanical-infused, beverage designed to be served with the addition of a mixer/soft drink, garnished abundantly with fruits and served over ice.
Most fruit cups have an ABV of 20-30% on average, and a lower sugar content than regular liqueurs. Depending on the base, the choice of mixer is either Lemonade, Ginger Ale, Soda or Tonic. The combination of different fruits and herbs added to this highball give each Cup it’s unique taste and end result. For most, abundance is key. It’s not uncommon to find berries, citrus wedges, slices of cucumber, even apple and sprigs of mint in your lusciously garnished cup.
Fun Fact 2: The UK Cucumber Growers Association predicted in 2015 that more than SEVEN MILLION cucumbers were needed to meet the demand for Pimm’s Cups that Summer. (The Telegraph, 23 June 2015)
And now, let’s take a look at something that hits closer to home, (at least for me).
Hana Fruit Cup
For a long time, Maarten Van Poucke, Belgium-based Bartender, had been looking for the perfect aperitif: Something less heavy-hitting than a spirit, yet not as sweet as a liqueur. And while most people would end up in the wide world of Fortified Wines (and nothing wrong with that!), Maarten found himself drawn towards the playing field of the ‘Fruit Cup’.
Inspired by its rich history, and combining it with his own passion for oriental flavors (Cherry Blossoms in particular) he worked for years behind the scenes, and is now ready to release the first ‘Belgian Made, 100% Natural‘, bottled Fruit Cup upon the world.
Hana, meaning ‘Flower‘ in Japanese, is a Fruit Cup based on the Sakura (Cherry Blossom), the national tree of Japan (and a symbol of its culture). Blended together with sour cherries and a handful other secret ingredients, the end result is a bright and natural red liquid, bottled at 21% ABV.
Full of flavor: floral, slightly bitter, a pinch of citrus, even some salt. Hana Fruit Cup radiates complexity. And don’t be put off by the initial lack of sugar (the use of sweeteners is something we’re often too accustomed to). Especially when paired with its mixer, Hana comes to life beautifully!
The perfect serve
- 1 part Hana (50ml)
- 2,5 parts Tonic (125ml)
Maarten serves this combination in two different styles.
First and foremost, one that is inspired by Japanese culture and their minimalistic ‘less is more’ approach:
1) Carefully combine over a single ice spear in a longdrink glass
2) Stir gently and garnish with flower petals
And secondly, a more abundant, traditionally British-styled Fruit Cup.
1) Add both ingredients to a glass filled with cubed ice
2) Garnish with citrus, cherry, flower petals and mint
I couldn’t help it myself to go a little out there as well, and created, a Hana-based variation on the Gin Sour:
45ml Hana Fruit Cup
15ml Navy Strength Gin (I used Hidden Curiosities Aranami Strength)
30ml Lemon Juice
15-20ml Simple Syrup
1) Shake all with crushed ice
2) Dump in a glass, top with more ice
3) Garnish with mint and Szechuan pepper
Have you ever had a Fruit Cup? Are you intrigued to try?
Let me know!
Sources on Fruit Cups and Pimm’s:
– “How To Make a Pimm’s Cup“, by Sam Dangrmond, Town & Country Magazine, May 2019
– “Summer Fruit Cup“, by Olivier Ward, The Gin Foundry, June 2018
– “Summer Fruit Cups & Pimm’s” by Simon Difford, Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers
Disclaimer: The bottle of ‘Hana Fruit Cup’ was a promotional item. All pictures and text are property of Matthias Soberon / Served By Soberon. All inspiring links are credited. Opinions are personal. Nothing can be used or copied without written permission of the author and the addition of full credits, including link to this article.