Posted On: 02/28/2018
History is rife with drinks that fell by the wayside but shouldn’t have. Like the Pegu Club – a favorite cocktail of the British military officers, diplomats and expats living in Rangoon who frequented the club by the same name at the beginning of the 20th century. It was popular enough to earn a place in eminent cocktail books of the time – including “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock – but was slowly forgotten after the Brits left Burma (now Myanmar).
The Pegu Club is super simple, but like all the best drinks, yields a flavor far greater than the sum of its parts. A piquant combination of gin, orange curaçao, lime juice and bitters, it made the perfect refreshment to quaff in the heavy heat of a Burmese afternoon. The tart and sweet flavors marry well and take the juniper bite out of the gin. With such an approachable, well balanced profile, it’s great at any time of year.
Thankfully, unlike other recipes relegated to the pages of dusty drink tomes, this one was revived during the 21st-century craft cocktail boom. It inspired bartender and entrepreneur Audrey Saunders when she opened her bar, Pegu Club, in Manhattan in the mid-2000s, which effectively introduced it to a new generation of drinkers.
I prefer a straightforward London Dry gin, like Beefeater or Broker’s, in the Pegu Club – along with Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao for subtle sweetness. I employ Reagan’s, my go-to orange bitters, in addition to Angostura. Once you taste the original, play with the ingredients to create your own take. Opt for a sweeter curaçao, try grapefruit bitters instead of orange or switch the amount to find what you like.
2 oz. London Dry gin
¾ oz. orange curaçao
¼ oz. lime juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Lime wheel, for garnish
• In an ice-filled shaker, combine the gin, curaçao, lime juice, Angostura and orange bitters. Shake vigorously, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lime wheel.
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