My Favorite Drink: The Pegu Club Cocktail

Categories: Last Call

Pegu Wide.JPG
JK Grence
My pets know what they're doing these days. The dog is currently laying spread-eagle on the tile floor, right in the fan's path. The cat has all but taken up residence in the bathroom sink. And about all I want to do come 2 PM is lay on the floor and watch the ceiling fan spin. It's time to pull out my neutron bomb of refreshing cocktails. It also happens to be my very favorite, the drink that got me interested in vintage cocktails. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Pegu Club Cocktail.

Pegu Club.jpeg
Public domain image courtesy Wikipedia
Illustration of the cocktail's namesake, the Pegu Club.
The Pegu got its start in the 1920s at (surprise!) the Pegu Club, a British officers' club in Rangoon, Burma (now known as Yangon, Myanmar). As people came back from Burma, the drink became popular in London at the Savoy hotel during the 1930s. Then, the club itself burned down in 1941, and the drink almost went extinct during the 1950s. Thanks to modern interest in vintage cocktails, the Pegu Club Cocktail has new life, and I couldn't be much happier about it.

The Brits really knew what they were doing to combat Burma's stifling summer climate when they created the Pegu Club Cocktail. Gin is the obvious base of the cocktail, with piney London Dry-style gins such as Tanqueray or Bombay doing the best job. A generous squeeze of lime is the natural complement to the gin. Cointreau brings just a little bit of sweetness. The whole thing comes together through the addition of two different kinds of bitters: Angostura, and orange.

What you get is a cocktail best described as bracing. It's a stiff drink, with citrus and bitters working together to create a flavor similar to really good grapefruit. Since this is a hot weather drink, you want everything extra-cold. Keep that cocktail glass stashed in the freezer until the very last moment, and shake the absolute bejeezus out of the drink.

Pegu Tall.JPG
JK Grence
Pegu Club Cocktail

1 ½ oz gin
¾ oz Cointreau (or other orange liqueur, preferably 80-proof)
½ oz lime juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

In a cocktail shaker, shake everything extra-hard with ice cubes. Strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

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