So I finally stirred myself and looked through the professional literature on this one.
The earliest formula I've got for it turns up in Barflies and Cocktails
, by "Harry and Wynn," published in Paris in 1927--the Harry being Harry McElhone of Harry's New York Bar and the book being a special, illustrated and supplemented edition of his regular ABC of Cocktails
(copies of this turn up on eBay pretty often; of Barflies and Cocktails
, never). The same formula appears in the 1929 edition of the ABC of Cocktails
, and for all I know in some of the earlier ones; it's not in the 1922 edition, though.
"Pegu Club Cocktail
1 dash of Angostura Bitters, 1 dash of Orange Bitters, 1 teaspoonful Lime Juice (Rose's)
, 1/6 Curaçao (Orange), 2/3 Gin."
Boy did this one throw me for a loop: Rose's! Holy Hannah! (In the interests of science, I tried it. Nix.)
When Harry Craddock went to assemble the Savoy Cocktail Book
, three years later, he didn't hesitate to pinch a whole bunch of stuff from Harry's ABC
, probably including the Pegu Club. He did, however, leave out that one crucial, trademarked word:
"Pegu Club Cocktail
1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1 Dash Orange Bitters.
1 Teaspoonful Lime Juice
2/3 Dry Gin.Shake well and strain into
The fact that he upped the proportion of curaçao suggests that he might in fact have used fresh lime juice, as we assume nowadays, but in light of the earlier recipe it's by no means a given.
In any case, the Savoy book, with its popularity and longevity, became the classic source for this drink, as it did for so many others (the Aviation, the Corpse Reviver, etc.). For me, though, this drink is too sweet. Not bad, but could be better.
There's one other early book that has the Pegu Club Cocktail in it, and it presents a rather different version of the drink from either of these. Tat's the puzzling little volume called Cocktails, by "Jimmy" late of Ciro's
(Ciro's was the chic London nightclub where McElhone had been head bartender before he went to Paris). Most versions of this book, published in Philadelphia by David McKay Company, have no copyright date. There evidently exists, however, a version with a 1930 copyright, which jibes pretty well with the contents of the book; there's certainly no drink in it which could not have existed before 1930. Here's how Jimmy made the Pegu Club:
4 parts Dry Gin
1 part Curacao
1 part Lime Juice
1 Dash Angostura Bitters per cocktail
1 Dash Orange Bitters per cocktail."
Assuming the "Lime Juice" is fresh, that's what I call a Pegu Club! The 4:1:1 ratio works out to a jigger of gin (2 oz), the juice of half a lime and a tablespoon of liqueur: easy to make, fresh and tasty. I shall henceforth always make them thus (I perhaps went a little overboard with the lime and curaçao in the recipe I printed in the Esquire book).
The point to all this: you can have your hefty splash of lime juice and still call it a pukka, historically-correct Pegu Club Cocktail.
(Apologies for the treatise--if I had more time I coulda probably boiled this all down onto a paragraph or two, but better quick than never.)
Back to the Pegu Club, I can only assume that Mr. Wondrich lists orange curacao (or a sub. of Grand Marnier) because some (finer?) curacaos are brandy- or cognac-based. Dave?
Exactly. Like Cointreau, Grand Marnier began its life as a fancy brand of curaçao, and it tastes enough better than most of the curaçaos out there to make it worth the extra price, especially if you're using it in small quantities. Plus, it's really easy to find.
Edited to add the point, which I completely omitted the first time around.
Edited by Splificator, 04 March 2005 - 11:45 AM.