Friday, May 16, 2014

Murder at Honeychurch Hall & Pimm's #1

Hannah Dennison, author of Murder at Honeychurch Hall, joins us for Friday Drinks with Reads...

First, a little bit about the book...

Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house at Honeychurch Hall, an isolated country estate located several hundred miles from London. 
Yet it seems that Iris isn’t the only one with surprises at Honeychurch Hall. Behind the crumbling fa├žade, the inhabitants of the stately mansion are a lively group of eccentrics to be sure—both upstairs and downstairs —and they all have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet. 

When the nanny goes missing, and Vera, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead in the grotto, suspicions abound. Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, and a treasure trove of antiques, and there is more than one motive for murder. 

As Iris’s past comes back to haunt her, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all. A when the bodies start piling up, it is up to Kat to unravel the tangled truth behind the murders at Honeychurch Hall.

And now, Hannah's post:

My favorite summer drink has to be Pimm’s No. 1. It captures the essence of an English summer’s day. I think of outdoor picnics, long evenings sitting in the garden (being bitten by mosquitoes), the smell of newly mown grass … and men in white playing cricket. It is one of the two staple drinks at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament (200,000 glasses of Pimms served!) the Chelsea Flower Show,  the Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne Festival of Opera– the other drink being Champagne. 

Since “Murder at Honeychurch Hall,” the first in a brand new series, is set on a country house estate, I am quite certain Pimm’s No. 1 would be served by Cropper, the butler. I am equally certain that the “gentry” as my heroine’s mother prefers to call the upper classes—enjoy more than a glass or two. The staff below stairs would be allowed to imbibe although I suspect they’d be rationed to just a measly thimbleful because believe me, Pimm’s is deceptively strong.  

So what exactly is Pimm’s No.1? It’s a gin-based liquor. There are some disagreements as to the exact year when it was created but Anyone For Pimms the official website, claim it was in 1831 (and they should know). Apparently English oyster bar owner James Pimm started the ball rolling offering this mysterious “tonic” as an aid to digestion. It was served in a small tankard known as a No.1 Cup – hence the name. Oh – and even to this day, the recipe is a secret, known only to six people. 

Pimm’s No.1 can be purchased at any liquor store in the USA. Finding English fizzy lemonade can be a bit tricky but 7-Up works just as well. Do not, however, use lemonade—the squeezed lemons version. It will taste disgusting. Some people substitute fizzy lemonade with ginger ale. 

A jug or glass is really easy to make: basically it’s 1/3 part Pimm’s No. 1 to 2/3 lemonade/ginger ale. (I confess that I add in an extra slug of gin). Pour over ice; add slices of cucumber, oranges, lemon and garnish with a sprig of mint. 

And finally, am I the only one who can enjoy a Pina Colada on a beach on vacation but when I try to make the same cocktail at home it just doesn’t taste as good? Could the same apply to Pimm’s, I wonder?  Can it only be enjoyed in England? 


  1. Thank you for a great post Hannah! Can't wait to dig into both the book and the drink.

  2. Thanks so much for hosting me. It was a lot of fun to write and of course, a perfect excuse to drink a jug of Pimm's ... all by myself ...

  3. I think I'll feel fancy when drinking this, and the book sounds fabulous.

  4. Loved this book, couldn't put it down!