Cooling Summer Cups

You bought the gin ... Now What?

Summer in the Bay Area may be more of an idea than an ideal, but like wearing layers, keeping a refreshing cocktail recipe at the ready is a smart move. Sure, you can make a margarita or spritz, but the king of patio drinks is the Summer Cup.

“The Summer (or Fruit) Cup is an amazing cocktail in that it is super easy drinking and yet surprisingly complex,” says Whitechapel partner Alex Smith ( “The layered use of refreshing fruity botanicals with the background bittering elements from the sweet vermouth really satisfy a discerning palate. It is lighter in alcohol, so you can enjoy many of them and maintain your sociable edge.”

The Summer Cup (also known as a Pimm’s Cup, if using that particular brand) is the gin equivalent of sangria: fruit and garnishes galore overflow from tall Collins glasses, that also makes a great pitcher drink. The key to making your own Summer Cup: pre-batching the mix like Smith and his staff make at Whitechapel (recipe below). With the mix at the ready in the fridge, all you need is gin, ginger ale, ice, and hot weather to begin your chill-out sessions.

Whitechapel bar manager Megan Daniel says that most gins in the London dry style will work, “however, the style that you choose will ultimately change the flavor.” 

Botanica Gin from Falcon Spirits in Richmond, which uses fresh herbs, or the Botanavore Gin from St. George Spirits in Alameda will take you more in the grassy direction. Blade Gin from Old World Spirits in Belmont, Venus Gin from Venus Spirits in Santa Cruz, or the namesake gin from Distillery No. 209 in San Francisco will take the drink towards a more citrusy direction.

Daniels thinks an overlooked component to making a great Summer Cup is using a good ginger ale, as it makes up a large portion of the final drink. Overly sweet mass market brands will leave the drink tasting diluted, sugary, and off balance. “I like to go with an all-natural ginger ale, such as Q ginger,” explains Daniel, adding that a quality mixer will also add “a nice kick of fresh ginger and will nicely balance and carry your cocktail.” — Lou Bustamante

Whitechapel Summer Cup
Recipe courtesy Whitechapel, 600 Polk St, San Francisco,

¾ oz. Gin
1 ½ oz. Summer Cup Mix*
¼ oz. Lemon juice
Ginger ale to top

* Whitechapel Summer Cup Mix
1 part Punt e Mes
1 part Giffard triple sec
½ part King’s Ginger Liqueur
¼ part Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
¼ part Chareau Liqueur

Directions: In a Collins glass with ice, combine gin, summer cup mix, and lemon juice and stir to combine. While stirring, add ginger ale to top. Garnish with borage or mint sprig, cucumber slice, lemon wheel.