Top Bartender Steven Rhea’s Current Obsession: The Pimm’s Cup
This Maison Premiere bartender used aquavit to transform the bar’s ever-evolving Pimm’s Cup.
The secret to the success of Brooklyn’s James Beard Award-winning bar Maison Premiere may be healthy competition among its bartenders.
Recently, the bar team tried to top each other to create the establishment’s latest version of the classic Pimm’s Cup. Though Maison Premiere is best known for its oysters and absinthe concoctions, the bar takes the Pimm’s Cup very seriously—this is the 33rd rendition of the drink on its menu.
So which one made it onto the menu? Steven Rhea, who has been behind the stick at Maison Premiere for just over a year, created the winning drink. His Pimm’s Cup—which is usually a blend of Pimm’s No. 1, sour mix and soda—features an amalgam of unexpected flavors, starting with Svöl Swedish-style Aquavit. (The recipe is below.)
“We usually use Pimm’s No. 1, a different type of spirit—in this case aquavit—and then we try to find complementary flavors around it,” says Rhea of the evolving Pimm’s Cups variations. “I used Manzanilla sherry, a little bit of [Angostura] bitters, salt, a small amount of grapefruit and lemon and then Evil Twin Geyser Gose, which is pretty satisfying. It’s not as pungent and sour. More or less, I just tried to find things that naturally go hand-in-hand.”
Rhea admits that Pimm’s No. 1 is somewhat difficult to work with.
“It either tastes like nothing else if you use too much Pimm’s or it tastes like everything else but Pimm’s,” says Rhea. The Swedish-style aquavit, which is actually produced in Brooklyn but hews to Scandinavian traditions, was an ideal foil, since it’s flavored with dill, lemon verbena and coriander, as well as a touch of everyone’s favorite table seasoning.
“The salinity is very clear in [the aquavit],” says Rhea. “It makes everything else taste better when you add salt to it.”
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
- .25 tsp Saline solution (1 part salt to 4 parts water)
- .5 oz Lemon Juice
- 1 oz Grapefruit cordial*
- .5 oz Manzanilla sherry
- .75 oz Svöl Swedish-Style Aquavit
- .75 oz Pimm's No. 1
- 2 oz Evil Twin Geyser Gose
- Glass: Collins
- Garnish: Mint sprig, dill sprig, orange wheel and lemon rind
Pour the gose into a Collins glass and fill with ice. Add all the remaining ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and double strain into the Collins glass. Stir briefly to mix, and garnish with fresh mint and dill sprigs, an orange wheel and slices of lemon rind.
- Peel of 1.25 grapefruits
- 1 cup White sugar
- 1 cup Grapefruit juice
Add the grapefruit peels and sugar to an airtight container. Let rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then add an equal amount of fresh grapefruit juice (approx. 1 cup). Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Fine strain into a sealable jar and refrigerate between uses.