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Pimm’s No. 1 is a British summertime classic, with the fruity refreshing taste of this gin-based booze making it perfect for sipping on a sunny day.
With hot weather on the horizon (we hope) and Covid restrictions starting to lift, you might be planning to stock up on a few bottles in preparation for summer gatherings with family and friends.
If so, it’s worth knowing that choosing a supermarket substitute can save you money – and potentially get you a tastier drink.
We compared Aldi and Tesco gin-based fruit cups with Pimm’s No.1 in a blind head-to-head taste test, and found that while the supermarket fruit cups are around half the price of Pimm’s, our panel of tasters didn’t rate them that differently on taste.
Read on to find out which bottle came out on top, where to buy and how to serve it.
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Of the three gin-based fruit cups we tried, Aldi triumphed with our tasters. Here’s how each drink measures up:
Aldi Austin’s Classic Summer Punch – £7.49
- Overall score: 72%
- Preferred by: 45%*
Proving that you don’t need to pay a premium for a top-notch tipple, Aldi’s Summer Punch – the cheapest of the three drinks we tested – was the highest rated overall, scoring 72%.
More people picked it as their preferred drink compared to Tesco and Pimm’s, with 45% saying it was their favourite of the three.
It costs just £7.49 for a 70cl bottle, which is around half the price of Pimm’s.
Available from Aldi.
Tesco Summer Cup – £8
- Overall score: 69%
- Preferred by: 28%*
Tesco’s Summer Cup narrowly edged ahead of Pimm’s to take second place in our taste test with a score of 69%. Just over a quarter of tasters said it was their favourite of the three drinks they tried.
It costs just 50p more per bottle than Aldi, giving Tesco shoppers a similarly great value option for tasty summer cocktails.
Available from Tesco.
Pimm’s No.1 – £15
- Overall score: 67%
- Preferred by: 28%*
Originally created as an aid to digesting oysters in 1840, Pimm’s No.1 Summer Cup has a strong pedigree, from being served at Queen Victoria’s lunches, through to its present-day popularity at Wimbledon.
However, in our blind taste test it was narrowly beaten by own-label drinks from Tesco and Aldi. It’s slightly lighter in colour than the Tesco and Aldi products, and a quarter of tasters said they found it too bitter. But its overall score was only a few percentage points behind Tesco, so it’s still a tasty tipple.
It’s typically around £15, though you will find it on offer for £10-12 periodically, so it’s worth looking out for deals if you want to save money on the branded version.
All bottles are 70cl and 25% ABV (alcohol by volume).
*test score percentages have been rounded to whole numbers
How to make perfect Pimm’s & Lemonade
If you’re making a classic Pimm’s cocktail, the recommended serving instructions on the bottle suggest combining:
- 50ml of Pimm’s No.1
- 150ml of English-style lemonade (clear and carbonated)
Served in a highball glass filled with ice. Add strawberry, orange and cucumber, and finish with a sprig of mint.
You can also scale up the same proportions in a jug to serve a larger group. This is what Tesco’s instructions advise, suggesting one part Summer Cup to three parts lemonade, and filling the jug with slices of orange, cucumber, strawberries and ice.
Aldi is more conservative and less fruity: it recommends pouring a mere 25ml of its Austin’s Classic Summer Punch into a tall glass with ice and topping up with lemonade, then garnishing with a slice of lemon, some citrus zest and a sprig of mint.
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Summer Cup cocktails: other ways to serve Pimm’s
There are some more alcoholic twists on the original Pimm’s & lemonade, which combine Pimm’s, or similar fruit-cup drinks, with sparkling wine instead of lemonade.
These can add something extra to a special occasion, but bear in mind they are stronger than the original, so shouldn’t be quaffed with abandon!
For a Pimm’s spritz, combine 50ml Pimm’s, 75ml lemonade and 25ml of sparkling wine in a wine glass filled with ice, then garnish with cucumber and mint.
For the fanciest of occasions, pour 25ml of Pimm’s into a champagne flute, then top up with prosecco or champagne and garnish with strawberries.
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How we tested Pimm’s vs own-label gin-based fruit cups
101 consumers blind-tasted each drink and rated the flavour, mouthfeel, appearance and aroma of each one, as well as telling us which product they preferred overall.
The samples were prepared using one part gin-based fruit cup to three parts chilled lemonade.
We tested own-label versions from Aldi and Tesco as they were the cheapest available supermarket options at the time of testing.
Sainsbury’s and Asda sell similar products, which weren’t included in this test, these are:
- Sainsbury’s Pitcher, £11.50 (1l), 25% ABV – available from Sainsbury’s.
- Asda The Great Summer Cup, £7.50 (70cl), 21.9% ABV – available from Asda.