Pegu Club Cocktail
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
Shake with large ice and strain.
No garnish specified, none needed. (Mine is just for decoration)
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There are two things you should know about 12 Bottle Bar — actually, about me (David) in particular. If the artwork on this page and several of my original cocktails haven’t given it away, I’m something of an Anglophile. My parents lived in Oxfordshire in the 1950’s, and I guess something got passed on. Second, as 12 Bottle Bar has moved along, I’ve seriously lamented not being able to add a proper Daiquiri to the menu. Daniel over at FUSSYlittleBLOG called me out on not having white rum on the list, and it was a comment that I took to heart. 12 Bottle Bar is a tight ship, however, and I remain committed to my belief that this is a bar that works beautifully for the home. In my defense — and to my Anglophile delight — I call the Pegu Club Cocktail.
Today, the Pegu Club is a thriving mixological den in New York City; one worth a visit. A hundred years ago, it was a British gentlemen’s club in Burma (now Myanmar). Rudyard Kipling wrote of it: “In the Pegu Club I found a friend… upon whose broad bosom I threw myself and demanded food and entertainment.” He was speaking of the establishment, of course, but he could just as well have been speaking of the drink. Like its contemporaries, the Rangoon Gymkhana, and the Rangoon Boat Club, the Pegu was a social spot for the colonial high and mighty — army officers, government officials, and businessmen. Those who were allowed entry could expect to be distracted from the monsoons or the heat (or both) by games of cards, tennis, swimming, boating, dancing, and, of course, drinking.
Which brings me to the Daiquiri comparison. Much like its Cuban cousin, the Pegu Club Cocktail, which had its origin during the 1920’s at the club of the same name, seems to have been engineered specifically to quench the thirst on a balmy summer day. Its dry tartness produces an unmistakeable pucker of satisfaction that I’ve not found outside of my dearly missed Daiquiri. And, quite frankly, after my first sip of a Pegu, I didn’t miss the Daiquiri half as much. In fact, the under note of Orange Liqueur brings a different level to the drink that a basic Daiquiri lacks. I think I’ve found a new best friend during the hot days.
October may be a strange time to discuss hot weather drinks, but trust me, if you live in Los Angeles, you’ll understand. Given Southern California’s penchant for having one season, along with the fact that I’m highlighting a few select drinks from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits…“, I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence.
When Harry Craddock of the Savoy wrote his invaluable cocktail tome, he described the Pegu Club as “…one that has travelled [sic], and is asked for, round the world.” It’s a shame that that’s no longer the case. Drinks as good as this shouldn’t need to be unearthed by intrepid archeologists such as Haigh. They should be commonplace, at least if well made.
In closing, I’d like to turn this post over to Kipling, who in a short stanza, describes Burma — and the essence of the Pegu Club, I think — better than I:
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be —
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay…
- Pegu Club Fifth Anniversary Menu Celebrates Half a Decade of Significant Drinking (offthepresses.blogspot.com)
- Quest for best orange liqueur comes full circle (sfgate.com)