On a visit to a vintage tearoom in Henley, I found an advertisement for Pimm’s No. 1 in a copy of Punch magazine from 22nd March 1950. I had only been looking at the adverts anyway, I like how audaciously polite they all are. Here it is:
You can see why it caught my eye. And below that excellent picture of Mars, who is presumably beckoning over a faithful faun to fill his glass, there is the little footnote:
“NOTE FOR HERBACEOUS BORDERS
Borage, the pretty, cordial herb, used for topping your Pimm’s is due for planting soon. Write Pimm’s, Dep. P., 98, Bishopsgate, London, E.C.2, for a free packed of Carter’s tested seeds.”
I was intrigued – I had never heard of putting borage in my favourite summer drink, yet clearly the fifties thought it very important. Not feeling optimistic that the promise of posted seeds would still be upheld sixty-four years on, I hunted down my own. And so three months later, here we are:
Borage, also known as starflower for obvious and lovely reasons, is an unusual plant really. Lightly spiky and quick to grow tall, it survived my horticultural ineptitude and produced clusters of flowers that started out pink and quickly turned bright blue, with a black dart in the centre. I was quite sad to pick them, but the Pimm’s was waiting.
As well as the borage flowers and a little leaf, I garnished with untraditional nectarine, apple and mint – because I’m adventurous and because that’s all there was in the house. Borage has a light cucumbery flavour, and it gave the drink a delightful tingling freshness. Plus the azure-blue stars look terrific. My Pimm’s is going to be fifties style from now on – hurrah for the blustering war-god Mars.