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Pegu Club


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#1 slkinsey

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 12:27 PM

NY Metro's article lets the cat out of the bag, and I can finally say what everyone wants to hear: after a few days of friends & family and press, Pegu Club should be opening next week.

As you can see from the photographs, it will be a beautiful spot. It's been very interesting for me to poke my head inside a few times during the construction process, and to see how everything came together. Even last Thursday, the place was nowhere near what you can see in the picture. It's a fairly large rectangular space featuring some banquettes right as you come in, and then a very large bar with a beautiful natural wood top.

There are many things they're doing at Pegu that seem unprecedented in recent Manhattan bar/lounge history. The setup behind the bar is most impressive. All the classes are chilled, each bartender has his/her own refrigeration setup, there are two Kold-Draft machines making gigantic cubes of ice, there is a full kitchen turning out interesting hot bar snacks, the bartenders have custom made cocobolo muddlers that feel like silk in your hand, there are special mixing pitchers with pour spouts for stirred drinks, etc. The selection of potables will be impressive, with more brands of gin than you can shake a stick at. There will also be an array of house-made single flavor tinctures, so bartenders can more or less create custom made bitters and spice accents on the fly. One very interesting touch is that every table will have a little box containing droppers of lemon juice, lime juice, bitters and simple syrup. That way, if their standard Sidecar is just a little bit too sour for your palate, you can add a drop or two of simple syrup to adjust the balance.

On top of all this will be some of Audrey's signature touches, such as decanting half of each martini into a small carafe nestled in a bowl of ice, and all the drinks that have made her such a favorite among the cocktails crowd. I love the fact that there will be no "V" glasses.


I'll have more to say, no doubt, after the weekend. But there is such a high degree of interest, I wanted to let everyone know that you'll soon be able to say it was worth every bit of the wait!

Pegu Club
77 West Houston Street (SoHo)
Between Wooster and West Broadway
212-473-PEGU
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#2 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 01:53 PM

Thanks for the heads up slkinsey. I can't wait to see the space and meet some friends at the Pegu Club, I love the martini set up so much I might even have one just so I can enjoy it cold to the bottom of the drink.
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#3 cdh

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 06:02 PM

Can't wait!
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#4 slkinsey

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 08:13 AM

More info as it comes in:

The official opening date is Monday, August 29th, 2005.

Hours will be:

Sunday ~ Wednesday: 5:00 p.m – 2:00 a.m.
(Snack menu offered until 1:00 a.m.)

Thursday ~ Saturday: 5:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.
(Snack menu offered until 3:00 a.m)
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#5 Joerg.Meyer

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 03:05 AM

One very interesting touch is that every table will have a little box containing droppers of lemon juice, lime juice, bitters and simple syrup.  That way, if their standard Sidecar is just a little bit too sour for your palate, you can add a drop or two of simple syrup to adjust the balance.

This is a really great invention for cocktail bar --- great ! -- think this will be new standard in mixology bars around the world...

WELL DONE ---

Kind Regards

Joerg Meyer

#6 slkinsey

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 11:17 AM

Some pictures from yesterday's pre-opening party. These were taken by Jared Brown, who together with Anistatia Miller runs one of the internet's longest-running spirits and cocktails related web sites, Shaken Not Stirred.

Posted Image
The Pegu Club logo on a bar napkin.

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A shot from the beginning of the bar towards the main seating area.

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This is the kind of cocktail perfection you can expect at Pegu Club.

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A look at the house cocktail.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#7 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 08:18 PM

This will be one of my first stops when I return home to NJ(tues). Thanks for the heads up Sam :smile:

Heading over wed. evening check NY ISO. Will have a full report. Sam any idea what in there sig. cocktail.

Edited by M.X.Hassett, 26 August 2005 - 08:19 PM.

Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

#8 slkinsey

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 02:23 PM

Hi Matthew. I'll have some more detailed things to say about Pegu Club after opening. One thing that did impress me, however, is how "ready" they already were at the pre-opening events -- far more so than most restaurants.

You should, of course, try the house cocktail: The Pegu Club Cocktail. Another one that I think is very interesting, and which I can confidently say you're unlikely to find in any other bar, is the Jimmie Roosevelt. But just tell the bartenders what you like, and they'll be happy to recommend something for you. Think of everyone behind the bar as a "cocktail sommelier."
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#9 Pan

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 11:21 PM

This place is in my neighborhood, so I'm eager to check it out. Do you know what a cocktail will cost?

#10 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 11:57 PM

Not sure of cost, will report back after wed. Maybe Sam has info.
Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

#11 slkinsey

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 06:18 AM

On the menu, the regular cocktails are $12 and the champagne cocktails are $16. These are fairly standard prices for cocktails of this quality and in this kind of setting, if perhaps a little bit on the low side. For comparison purposes, cocktails at The Double Seven are running $16 (although they may come in a bigger glass).
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#12 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 08:44 AM

. . . just tell the bartenders what you like, and they'll be happy to recommend something for you.  Think of everyone behind the bar as a "cocktail sommelier."

View Post


I second that suggestion. All of the bartenders are very knowledgable and personally chosen by Audrey Saunders, who is very highly regarded in the industry. (You aren't chosen to run the beverage program at Bemelmans Bar, at the Carlyle Hotel unless you're one of the best in the country!) Everyone at Pegu shares her passion for you to have the best experience possible. But even with so much talent behind the bar, and the kitchen, the customer is the most important person at the Pegu.
Edward Hamilton


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#13 slkinsey

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 09:29 AM

Gary Regan talks about having the first ever Pegu Club Cocktail served to the public at the new Pegu Club

Not wanting to appear too eager, Chris and Gary had arrived at Pegu a full five minutes late for the relatively small gathering of “friends and family” who were invited to a sneak preview of the club on Wednesday, August 24. And as they expected, they were not the first people there. But nobody had ordered a drink yet. What were they thinking? Why the hell were they there? Oh, it’s true that everyone in attendance that night showed up to support Audrey and the clan, but this was Pegu Club, Goddamit. And Audrey’s cocktails were to be had. For free.

Although they are usually very shy about this sort of thing Chris and Gary wasted no time. They hailed bartender Chad Solomon and demanded Pegu Club cocktails. Chad obliged. The drinks were heavenly. Pure bliss. And they were the first. The very first.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#14 baw

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 09:06 PM

Just returned from a couple of drinks at Pegu. It is truly an excellent place! I tasted: a Pegu Club, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and a Silver Lining (made by Tobey, I gather its a Milk and Honey creation?). When I tasted the Pegu Club, I knew it was the best cocktail I had ever tasted (I've never been to Bemelman's or Milk and Honey so I can't compare). And that was my least favorite of the four! I ordered an Old Fashioned as my 2nd drink. It was wonderful, but then I tasted the Silver Lining that my boyrfriend was served. He saw the expression on my face and generously traded. The Pegu Club was $12, and the other 3 were $10. A true bargain. We had the "sloppy duck" snack, which were 2 small freshly griddled potato buns smothered in very sweet/spicy shredded duck meat. Very good.. my partner notes that despite the tasty duck the best part was the bread.. The ambience, bar service, and hostess were all great. Im going to go again tomorrow. Don't take my seat at the bar :) I imagine this place will get mobbed by the beautiful people (not that there's anything wrong with that) in the very near future, so go now and go often.

#15 baw

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 05:30 AM

Now that I am no longer tipsy, I should add that Sam and Ted's statements above about the superiority of the bartenders are spot on, even to this non-expert girl. Tobey answered all of our many questions clearly and with a friendly smile. Each drink was pretty labor intensive and carefully crafted, not at all rushed. He would carefully inspect each ingredient before using it and tasted at least 2 of the 4 drinks before serving. I learned a lot about Old Fashioned making just by watching him. He made us the Silver Lining (rye, vanilla liquer, egg white, simple syrup, ??) cocktail after making 1 well recieved Manhattan and being asked for "I dunno, something garnished with those cherries and that is Rye or Bourbon based." To me, getting a cocktail here was my spirits equivalent of eating at La Gavroche at the age of 16 and for the first time becoming aware of just how good food could taste.

Edited by baw, 31 August 2005 - 05:45 AM.


#16 slkinsey

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 12:24 PM

Some detailed early impressions for the curious. . .

The Pegu Club's opening menu is structured similarly to Audrey's menus at Bemelmans, with a mix of original creations, "new classics" from contemporaries, and old-school classics both well known and obscure.

You've seen above Jared's picture of the Pegu Club Cocktail. It's a most interesting drink, and one that has been the subject of many discussions over the last year or so, both offline and elsewhere in these forums. We can go around the tree about the liquor ratios in this drink, but you can't argue with their results. They nail this cocktail.

As good as the Pegu Club Cocktail is, it's not my favorite on the list. That prize would have to go to the "Fitty - Fitty," which is. . . a boring old Martini. But wait! We're not talking about a "wave the bottle over the glass and say vermouth" modern era Martini. As the name suggests, it's 50% gin and 50% vermouth with a drop of orange bitters. Not so boring. Inspiring. Delicious. Right. This is the way a Martini is supposed to be made. Instead of one ingredient dominating and the other getting in the way, the gin and vermouth play together in the glass creating a juicy-wet drink that begs to be tossed down. This true partnership allows each component of these two remarkably complex ingredients to be sensed, resulting in a full flavor that is at the same time light, refreshing and never cloying. You'll want another one. And then another.

As expected, there are several Audrey Saunders favorites on the menu. Her Gin-Gin Mule is the all-time best drink for the putative ginophobe, matching gin with lime, mint and homemade ginger beer. The Jamaican Firefly is another one that makes good use of homemade ginger beer, taking the Dark & Stormy to a more subtle, refined place with an accent of clove tincture. Her widely admired Tantris Sidecar tweaks the Sidecar formula with calvados, Green Chartreuse and pineapple, as though your motorcycle driver had suddenly changed routes to take you through some exotic foreign land. The Earl Gray MarTEAni, which has to be tried to be believed, and The Old Cuban, a luxe take on the Mojito with champagne and aged rum, are also there along with others. Part of the reason we like going to concerts is to enjoy the favorite songs we have come to love over the years, and it can be disappointing if they're only performing new material. It's important to have the right mix of new and old, familiar and unfamiliar. I might say the same with a new restaurant or bar. I like being able to "come home" to drinks I've been missing, then branch out to something new.

Besides offering her own creations, Audrey's menus often feature a few contemporary cocktails created by colleagues and forgotten classics worth resurrecting. To that end, the menu features Paul Harrington's Jasmine, Dale DeGroff's Whiskey Smash and from Charles "Doc" Baker's The Gentleman's Companion (one of the all time great cocktail books), the Jimmie Roosevelt. This last one deserves a little extra description, for it is a most interesting libation and one that is unlikely to be familiar. In the Pegu Club's version, a glass is rinsed with demerara simple syrup, then in goes some Cognac and an Angostura-soaked sugar cube; on top of that goes cracked ice, then a top of champagne and the whole thing drizzled with Green Chartreuse. Since the drink isn't mixed per se, the ingredients combine in the glass according to their own whimsy (and specific gravities, no doubt), which leads to a drink that evolves greatly, making many twists and turns on the way to the bottom of the glass. The first few sips are light, dry and effervescent; then the herbal exoticism of the Chartreuse begins to make its presence felt, lurking around the bits of cracked ice; towards the bottom of the glass the sweetness from the demerara syrup rinse and the Angostura's cinnamon come to the fore. Meanwhile the Cognac is there throughout to tie the whole thing together. It's like three or four drinks in one -- a must have.

I was joking with a few of the bartenders that Pegu Club has to be the only bar in America where both Green Chartreuse and Punt e Mes are sitting in the well topped with speed pourers. Speaking of the 'tenders, as others have pointed out this is a top notch bunch. Chad Solomon, Toby Maloney and Philip Ward -- not to mention Audrey herself -- are among the very best, and I'm sure the same can be said for the rest of the crew. Here's one example of what sets apart these bartenders: at the press party I ran into JJ (aka jogoode) who was there to cover the event. He had several drinks in front of him, among which was a Pineapple Pisco Sour. I noticed that the egg white foam wasn't dotted with an "aromatic garnish" of Angostura bitters, as it often is. Wanting to show JJ the difference a little bitters can make, I called Toby over and got him to drop in a touch of Angostura. This led directly to an extensive discussion/educational session/bitters tasting between Toby and JJ. This is exactly the sort of thing one can expect from a Pegu Club bartender, and says something important about what the bar is all about. They have a love for the craft, a deep knowledge and, perhaps most importantly, a real interest in sharing with others and growing the community. There are a number of bars and bartenders where one can get a good cocktail, but not many that will enthusiastically take the time to teach a curious customer about bitters.

So, that's the cocktails. . . but it doesn't stop there. One thing that really sets Pegu Club apart is its small plates menu, designed by Gavin Citron. Chef Citron is a highly respected chef who has done well in some very good kitchens including Aja, Aleutia, Celadon, Citron (his own restaurant) and, soon, Maroons Smoke Shack. The menu, in keeping with the Club's décor, features Asian-fusion style small bites from six dollars to sixteen dollars a plate. My favorites include smoked trout deviled eggs, "sloppy duck" (two small sandwiches of pulled duck and Asian barbecue sauce), sushi tuna dice, bite-sized Rangoon crab cakes and diver scallop mini burgers with chili mayonnaise and fresh basil. Chef Citron comes to this venture with somewhat unique qualifications. His restaurant Citron specialized in "medium plate" dishes paired with wine or sake. Continuing this theme, several of the small plates at Pegu Club have recommended cocktail pairings. Smoked trout deviled eggs with your Fitty – Fitty Martini? Yes, please.

I think I know what I'm doing tonight. . . :smile:
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#17 DrinkBoy

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 05:27 PM

"...the only bar in America where both Green Chartreuse and Punt e Mes are sitting in the well topped with speed pourers..."

View Post

I LOVE IT! :->

#18 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 06:08 PM

I went to Pegu wed. I started with the Pegu Club (dry gin orange bitters orange curac.) very nice offered nice balenced flavors. Then I had the the Jimmie Roosevelt(cog bitters grean chart champ) one of the best drinks I have ever had definetly is 3 drinks in one it offers many levels of flavor and changes as you drink it a very fine drink indeed . I then had a Tanq 10 gibson perfect(50-50 dry sweet verm) very well made stirred served with extra in ice chilled dacanter. Then it was on to the tantric sidecar(cog calv countr lemon pineapple green chart) I realy liked the addition of calvados I could have lived without the pineapple though. Now on to food the chicken satay nice spicy most like cajun blackened chicken could have used more chopped peanuts in sauce. Sloppy duck pulled duck on potato bun with trop fruit bbq sauce the suace was a little to sweet for me very good high end white castles(in a good way). I also tasted my friends fifty-fifti(half gin half dry vermouth) very nice I tend to order martinis with nice pours of vermouth so I liked this drink a lot.
All in all a GREAT place good atmosphere informed staff good food and Great cocktails. This is my new neighborhood bar and I live in north jersey :biggrin:. I will definetly order the J.Roosevelt and the sloppy duck again.

edit: ignore spelling grammer errors I typed this on treo.Fedex says my new laptop is still in transit. Well gotta shower and head over to saka gura and then Pegu for more research :biggrin:

Edited by M.X.Hassett, 01 September 2005 - 06:13 PM.

Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

#19 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 10:37 PM

Siting at the bar right now. I just had an aviation perfectly made. Then I had J.roosevelt very good the ice was not as chipped as previous night. Next was Improved holland gin cocktail with bols genever superb I can not say enough about this cocktail. Well just sitting here waiting for the corpse reviver 2. Your man on the scene :biggrin: MXH
Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

#20 KatieLoeb

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:04 PM

:wub: A man after my own heart. Your dedication is making me swoon. :biggrin:

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Cheers!
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#21 slkinsey

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 08:03 AM

Visited again yesterday with several friends, and more seemed to arrive every 30 minutes or so. I was there in the early evening, so it looks like MX and I had the place well covered.

It was great to finally see the place in full commercial operation. The crowd was fairly thin when we arrived at around 6 o'clock, but by the time we left at around 9:00 it had filled up almost to capacity -- which is to say, almost to the point where they might have started limiting the door (I get the impression they will never allow Pegu to become overcrowded). Not bad for a Thursday night, three days after opening and during one of the slowest times of the year!

So far, every time I've been there something has been tweaked to be a little bit better than the last, and this time was no exception. In particular, the Jimmie Roosevelt cocktail has taken a big jump in the form of more finely crushed ice and, more importantly, a much better glass. Jimmie's new glass is still a "coupe' shape, but it's larger than the glass they were using before, which means that it holds a greater proportion of champagne, and the rim of the glass curves inwards just slightly at the top, which means that the glass holds the ice more gracefully. As with wine, it's amazing what a difference can be made with a change of glassware, and I know this is something Audrey has thought out extensively.

People in the cocktail community also continue to send interesting items, rare bottles and other odds & ends over to Pegu Club. I had previously tried Dave Wondrich's reproduction of Abbott's bitters, and yesterday tried a few different bitters that Robert Hess had sent over, one of which I believe had been aged in wood. Excellent stuff, Robert!
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#22 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 09:53 AM

Corpse reviver 2 was executed perfectly made me sad though thinking of New Orleans. Then on to manhatten with Old H rye and orange bitters perfect(50-50). Very nice smooth with a nice bite the only way a manhatten should be made :wub: I then asked Toby to make me something with hendricks gin he made me a gin fizz with a little bit of rose water wow this realy brought out the rose backround of the hendricks. I met Audrey very nice and friendly. For being open for only a week Pegu is running very well. I highly recomend going to Pegu every night forever :biggrin:
Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

#23 Liz Johnson

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 07:35 AM

Oh my -- I can't wait! I couldn't make it to the press party but I'll be there within the week. I'm glad to hear it's not crowded, even when it is.
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#24 BTR

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 02:40 PM

Man, you New Yorkers have all the luck ... This sounds absolutely fantastic. I'd be sure to bankrupt myself if I lived in the city.

#25 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 03:24 PM

The Pegu Club is only the latest in the new generation of connoisseur's cocktail bars. I was fortunate enough to be in Seattle last weekend and there is a huge interest in raising the bar and elevating the cocktail experience with better trained bar chefs. And I'm confident that this trend will continue to grow around the world as consumers are drinking less, but better, spirits and cocktails. :biggrin:
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#26 baw

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 08:16 AM

BTR - I am bankrupting myself on this place already.. I think they put crack in the drinks or something. I only live 4 blocks away.. so I've been there more than half of the days they have been open. The employees must think I'm completely nuts! After 10 days of intense research, I've tried many new drinks; the Sazerac and Silver Lining are two of my favorites. Phil makes a very nice Prohibition cocktail - plymouth gin, lillet, wee bit of apricot brandy. Maybe something else. Ive had old fashioneds made by 3 different bartenders.. each one different than the others. I find it so interesting to watch each bartender's personal approach to the cocktails. It is less busy this week than last week.. so everyone should go. It wont be too crowded. I will be there Monday for the benefit and am guessing I will 'see' some of you there.

We sat at a table one night because our group was too large. Aside from the obvious reason that you lose the bartender interaction and show, the table experience was disappointing. I think we may have rubbed our waitress the wrong way.. she seemed to be unhappy with some of our requests. The service made me uncomfortable enough that I left with friends to go somewhere else for other drinks.

#27 Libationgoddess

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 12:16 AM

Please let me know what night you were with us. That you got bad vibes is completely unacceptable and I want to address this with the staff immediately.

Actually, if you could send me a direct email through egullet and elaborate a bit, I'd greatly appreciate it. It's only through this sort of feedback that we will be able to maintain the level of service that we wish to provide.

Audrey

#28 baw

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 09:41 AM

Audrey - I really appreciate your concern. Yet another example of the amazing effort and thought that has gone into Pegu. Aside from that isolated experience, the service has been first rate. Ive sent you an email...

#29 danoots

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 10:08 AM

My god I love this place. We went twice yesterday... we went for a pre-dinner drink, and I was so taken with the place, we hiked back for a post-dinner libation.

And I believe I've found a new favourite cocktail in the Jimmy Roosevelt, although I'm going to practice making them at home (at $16 a pop, it's a wonderful splurge, but I can't drink them all night).

#30 slkinsey

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 10:32 AM

. . .I believe I've found a new favourite cocktail in the Jimmy Roosevelt, although I'm going to practice making them at home. . .

You should definitely buy a copy of Charles Baker's The Gentleman's Companion, now reprinted under the title Jigger, Beaker, and Glass : Drinking Around the World. It is one of the great cocktail books of all time, not just for the recipes but also for Baker's inimitable writing style. It's not just a recipe book, but a series of stories involving cocktails.

Here is a little taste of Baker's style:

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL No. II, which with Modestly Downcast Lash We Admit Is an Origination of Our Own, & Which We Christened the "Jimmie Roosevelt"

Last spring we had the pleasure of turning our house into an oasis, between planes, for Colonel Jimmie Roosevelt and Grant Mason of the Civil Aeronautics Commission. . . [etc.]

Fill a big 16 ounce thin crystal goblet with finely cracked ice.  In the diametrical center of this frosty mass went a lump of sugar well saturated with Angostura, then 2 jiggers of good French cognac, then fill the glass with chilled champagne, finally floating on very carefully 2 tbsp of genuine green Chartreuse.

As you may well imagine, it does take some adjustment to turn this into a normal cocktail, as the original uses an entire split of Champagne!
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey