Rosie and I have decided, during our summer holidays of nothing-ness, to test out all the bars and restaurants of Stratford-upon-Avon. Seeing as she's been too busy revising to get out much and I've been.. too busy juggling kids and houses to get out much. So in the last week, we've set about our evenings trying out Pimm's in the local pubs. Of course, had it been over the course of a night we'd have been on the floor and probably not able to tell the difference between Simon Cowell's pee and a glass of Pimm's, so it's just as well we've spread out our taste-tests.
Let's start with the basics. According to the Pimm's advert which cunningly incorporates people dressed up as fruit and dancing overzealously down a street, a summer Pimm's drink should contain a bit of everything of the following: Ice. Lemonade. Orange. Mint. Cucumber. Strawberry. And of course, a 50ml measure of Pimm's. On with the trials!
Bonus points for our Pimm's taste test:
- A fancy glass
- Straw added in by bar staff
- Shaped ice
- Cocktail umbrella
- Fruit on rim of glass
- Crazy coloured people singing the Pimm's tune
- Fireworks display as the glass is passed to you
- Any form of Freebies.
Before a trip to the cinema on Sunday evening, we decided to sit in the Picture House Cinema Arty-farty bar and enjoy some Pimm's. This proved more of an investment as we were charged £4.00 per drink, served up in a narrow beer glass and contained no fruit and no straw. EXTRA Minus points for the slow barman who spent more time flipping his peroxide fringe back and forth. Should have thrown the drinks back at him! I've also recently been informed that Pimm's comes in three different 'flavours' - Pimm's mixed with either rum, vodka or gin, hence the Numbers on the bottle (e.g. 'Pimm's No.1') which up until now I'd never paid any attention to. But after knowing this valuable piece of info, I was able to taste the strong rum in this drink which ruined the delightfulness of Pimm's rather. If I wanted rum, I'd have ordered it!
However, by chance we'd walked into a night of music in the bar, so technically there WAS singing going on, although no necessarily the Pimm's theme tune... But for a pleasant evening of music, we'll definitely go back. Plus we were able to take drinks into the cinema. Score: 2 cucumbers out of 5. Not a great show (but the movie itself was brilliant)!
After the cinema we took a detour on the way home and found ourselves at Hole in the Wall/Bar Room Bar. There we ordered two Pimm's - each £2.80 - which included cucumber cubes and a token slice of lemon. HAS NO ONE SEEN THE CRAZY PIMM'S ADVERT?? IT HAS COLOURED PEOPLE! Rating: 3 cucumbers. Price was excellento, but if I'd wanted that much cucumber in my drink I'd have ordered a salad.
The next day...
Rosie and I met for a very enjoyable lunch at Cox's Yard during the stress of yet ANOTHER moving day, so once again treated ourselves to PIMM'S. It was hot, summery, I was wearing flipflops which happens once-in-a-lifetime, and Pimm's tends to round up all the happiness and blissfulness of summer into a chilled drink. Cox's Yard is definitely a tourist trap, but one of my newfound favourite places in Stratford. Love love love! (And Pimm's pimm's pimm's!)
I was also very pleased to see that the bar at Cox's actually had an official Pimm's fruit tray, which consists of a long storage box with individual compartments to hold each - AND EVERY - bit of Pimm's fruit from the mint leaves to the strawberries. In case you can't read the photo, or got distracted by the mouth-watering picture of Cox's Pimm's beside, a glass costs £3.75, and a '3 pint jug' (a Pimm's Pitcher) £15.25 - the latter I feel is rather a tad too pricey, particularly if you get onto our Wetherspoons experience below. Rating: 4.5 cucumbers. We definitely had 'all the trimmings', and we even had straws put in for us, which, judging by the failures of the last two bars, is a bit of an achievement.
We figured a good place to have started with - to mark out a 'standard' - would have been Wetherspoons. There is ALWAYS a Wetherspoons wherever you go. Not to mention good value for money, picture menus for the children (YOU GOTTA THINK OF THE CHILDREN!), and by total chance and luck, the place where everyone else our age in Stratford hangs out. I'd started to wonder WHERE THE HELL everyone was! No straw, and a pitiful lemon and lime, but a good chilled atmosphere. Despite the fact it was Wetherspoons. Suitable for anybody in winter wanting to pretend it's summer. Rating: 4 cucumbers.
It can't have been all that bad as a couple of nights later we were back and ordering a REALLY good priced-pitcher of Pimm's, costing £6.90. This was after a very disappointing trip at The Encore... (keep reading!)
The benefit of doing a Pimm's trial all in one go is that by the time we'd have hit The Encore, we wouldn't have had enough money anyway to afford these. NINE POUNDS FIFTY!!!! NINE POUNDS FIFTY FOR TWO DRINKS! I think this is APPALLING! Extra EXTRA minus pounds for the abominable prices! My temper was somewhat eased out after finally being able to relax into one of the absolutely fabulous Zebra armchairs I've always seen yet never tried... Truly exquisite, I'll buy FOUR.
So, what is included in the £4.75 drink? Well, we did get not-one-but-two straws, and a range of fruit including an unexpected raspberry, and Rosie seemed to think it tasted particularly good until I said that 'Pimm's is Pimm's...' until we went on to Wetherspoons for the pitcher which was stronger and cheaper! But if Rosie can taste the difference then I'd better add on an extra point. Rating: 3.5 cucumbers. Stylish setting, scandalous prices!
Setting an example.
And so not with a fizzle but with a bang, here's how the experts do it. This was the first evening in my new house, so please excuse the lack of straws, herb garden containing fresh mint and a room of belly dancers or something equally as carnival-istic, but visualise a pretty damn good Pimm's: a heap of MIXED and Pimm's-RELATED fruit at the top (including strawberries), the froth of fresh and chilled lemonade all mixed with an estimated measure of Pimm's. (Newby said a capful was 50ml but moving house is such a hassle I was beyond caring!)
My favourite place for Pimm's must be Cox's Yard for a laid back summer evening with friends. I still can't get over their scanners as well - there is no need for notepads or pens there, all the staff and waitresses carry small scanners and books of barcodes, so anything you order, be it food or drink, they just scan the code which send it automatically through to the tills and the kitchen! Neat, huh? Wetherspoons was amazing value and a good place for randomly bumping into people you haven't seen for ages... or saw just yesterday. But good student digs in the small town that is Stratford. Worst Pimm's is the rum-ridden rip-off from the Picture House Cinema bar, and priciest goes to The Encore (no encore this time!), but I wouldn't object to one of their Zebra chairs for the same price as a Pimm's!