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Pegu Club


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#121 slkinsey

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 08:43 AM

the ice cubes are phenominal. huge. they don't melt.

but is this idea so revolutionary?  huge ice cubes? fresh juices, soda out of glass?

surely someone else in new york can do it at that level with a better view then houston street and a sexier room?

Pegu Club is a place that I think most anyone can appreciate. But just like with haute cuisine and sushi and anything else at a certain level, I think there are things one needs to have a certain amount of experience and education in to fully appreciate about a place like Pegu Club.

To make a comparison, let's suppose someone walks into Sushi Yasuda, sits at a table instead of the bar, orders a California roll and a few pieces of salmon nigiri sushi, then says: "Is that it? Is this idea so revolutionary? Super-fresh fish and high quality rice? Surely it can't be too hard to do sushi on this level in a nicer location?" (Substitute any top haute restaurant in a similar scenario, like walking into Daniel and having a simple roast chicken.)

Now... you might say: "Um... If it were easy to do sushi on that level, everyone would be doing it. Maybe it's possible that you didn't quite take advantage of everything Sushi Yasuda has to offer, and maybe it's the case that you don't quite understand enough about sushi to fully appreciate what they're doing there." Indeed, this is something we have seen written in these forums time and time again about various restaurants and diners.



All of which is to say that there are plenty of revolutionary things about Pegu Club. There aren't too many bars that carry over 20 different bottlings of gin and have bartenders with the knowledge and skills to take advantage of the distinctive properties of all those different gins. There aren't too many bars where you can choose from a menu of distinctive cocktails created by a top mixologist like Audrey and her staff. There aren't too many bars staffed with bartenders who have such a comprehensive knowledge of mixology that they can make all the classics, no matter how obscure -- and if they don't know it from memory, they're happy to consult the first printing of The Gentleman's Companion or one of the other legendary classic reference books behind the bar. There aren't too many bars staffed with bartenders who can create a custom progression of cocktails for customers on the fly based on a spirit, flavor, concept or style. There aren't too many bars that are using only top quality ingredients like Kold Draft ice cubes, fresh juices, soda out of bottles rather than a gun, etc. I could go on. But suffice it to say that, yea, Pegu Club is a special place and no, there aren't a lot of places that are even remotely in the same league.

But, again, depending on the person and the circumstance, I think it's entirely possible to go in there and not be blown away. Just like it's possible to go into Sushi Yasuda or Daniel and not be blown away. Next time, try sitting at the bar on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening, branch out a little more with your cocktail choices and let the bartenders guide you. I think you'll have a more favorable impression.
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#122 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 09:12 AM

I think that if you go to Pegu Club looking at it as a bar or club to hang out in, you'll wonder what all the excitement is. ("Can't there be a better view and a sexier room?") Pegu Club is fine for social interactions, of course, but to me it's more like a restaurant whose specialty dishes are cocktails. Meaning you concentrate on the cocktails the way you concentrate at the sushi at Yasuda. To me, asking for a better view or a sexier room at Yasuda would miss the point, just as it does at Pegu Club.*
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* Having said that, of course you can get to a point where decor or atmosphere detracts from the experience, as it does at Cafe Gray and (reportedly) Urena. But I don't think that's what we're talking about here.

#123 slkinsey

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 09:14 AM

I actually think that the comparison of a bar like Pegu Club to a sushi place like Yasuda works pretty well. There are a lot of the same elements and considerations at play.


Edited to add: FWIW, I think Pegu Club has a very sexy room.

Edited by slkinsey, 09 June 2006 - 09:19 AM.

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#124 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 09:15 AM

Yeah, I think you really nailed it with that.

Edited by Sneakeater, 09 June 2006 - 09:16 AM.


#125 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 09:20 AM

(Although, ironically, the decor in Yasuda is very nice -- even sexy -- and, I think, definitely part of the appeal. In that sense, in a way, Pegu might be more like Karuma Zushi, where, when you walk through the door and look at the room, you definitely think, "what's so special about this?")

Edited by Sneakeater, 09 June 2006 - 09:21 AM.


#126 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 10:14 AM

I think it might be interesting to note, as a sort of side comment here, that the only thing I don't like about the Flatiron Lounge is that, at least during the after-work period, it has this very crowded young-professionals pick-up-type scene going on (or at least, it has every time I've been there during that time period). Now I've got nothing against Young People Meeting Each Other -- the world must be peopled -- but, to me, it detracts from the seriousness of the cocktails. It's just too hard to concentrate on them. It almost seems to me that, if that's the kind of place you're going to be, you don't need to put so much care into your mixology.

I'm not sure where I think I'm going with this. Other than perhaps to note how lucky it is that a place like the Pegu Club seems to have found its best audience for the most part. And to wonder how many places like that even a big market can sustain (the Milk & Honey group have all pretty much succeeded in this regard as well).

(And also, I guess, to make sure that Julie will never speak to me again.)

Edited by Sneakeater, 09 June 2006 - 10:25 AM.


#127 Nathan

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 11:00 AM

Agree with you entirely.
(indeed, one friend of mine who frequently posts on egullet but shall remain nameless had exactly that reaction to both Pegu Club and Sushi Yasuda "what's the big deal?")

I think Flatiron Lounge runs into the problem that it hasn't had the PR of Pegu Club or the M&H joints....I know a fair amount of people who've stopped there for a vodka tonic or a glass of wine...never realizing that it was a cocktail mecca...

#128 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 11:11 AM

Edited to add: FWIW, I think Pegu Club has a very sexy room.

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Yeah, sexy enough, certainly.

#129 chefboy24

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 11:33 AM

i see your points. but.

does anyone really (or should anyone?) go to a place for the sole reason to enjoy the "genius" of mixology of a perfect cocktail?

no. one goes to enjoy the company of their friends, the relaxation, the buzz, the alcohol, the room, the vibe.

while i love a great meal at per se, part of the whole per se experience is the energy in that room, what the room looks like, the view, the people, and the company you're with.

the "genius" of pegu club didn't go over my head. believe me. that's border line insulting. i do apreciate the gin and whiskey and bourbon and ice cubes and juices........ but then again ... how many gins do you need? i need one good one. maybe 2. and there is nothing wrong with that.

sitting at a sushi bar for sushi has obvious appeal to me and is pretty self explanitory.

people like to watch chefs at work.

do people like to watch bartenders at work? its cool for a bit but ultimately you are there to drink.

but since when in new york do people ever go somewhere for drinks to be educated and have a whole "experience"

for me to go enjoy drinks in some location in new york.... it is for a social and relaxing (or maybe even business) purpose, not some sort of bartender / mixologist worship. please.

it would be akin to going to jean georges with your significant other or best friend and talking about nothing except the food for two and a half hours. theres more to a meal then the preparation of the foodstuffs on your plate.... and theres more to a great bar then the quality of ingredients in your drink and the skill of the bartender.

A good metaphor for me is going to a nightclub to see a DJ. Are you going to worship a master at work? (and some of them are). Or are you going to enjoy the whole experience of the club....the vibe, the room, the energy, the new people, the old friends.... There's more to a great night out then a genius dj. Know what I'm sayin?

Edited by chefboy24, 09 June 2006 - 11:39 AM.


#130 slkinsey

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 11:37 AM

I think it might be interesting to note, as a sort of side comment here, that the only thing I don't like about the Flatiron Lounge is that, at least during the after-work period, it has this very crowded young-professionals pick-up-type scene going on (or at least, it has every time I've been there during that time period).

Flatiron Lounge is absolutely one of the best cocktail spots in the country, make no mistake about that. But, for better or worse, it's located on 19th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. That means that they're going to get a certain kind of crowd at certain times and on certain days of the week. If Pegu Club were next door to Flatiron Lounge, you'd see exactly the same thing there. And remember that Pegu Club at 11 on a Friday night isn't always exactly a cocktail monastery.

Also... for what it's worth, and this is something we've chatted about a few times, I don't think Julie is going for "serious" or "cocktail shrine" at Flatiron. She's looking for great high-end cocktails, of course, but also for highly accessible high-end cocktails and a fun vibe for the neighborhood. Flatiron succeeds on all these points, and is absolutely a destination spot for the serious cocktailian at the right times.

But yea, I agree... the "after work twentysomething rush" times aren't exactly "our times" for FL.

does anyone really (or should anyone?) go to a place for the sole reason to enjoy the "genius" of mixology of a perfect cocktail?

Yes. I do. And I think it's quite clear that plenty of other people in these forums do as well. But then again, as with restaurants and sushi bars, etc. people have different reasons to go. If your reasons for visiting a high-end cocktail bar like Pegu are not the same as ours, then it makes sense that you won't "get it" the way we get it. This isn't to say that you don't "get it" entirely -- just perhaps that your "getting it" is different from ours.

From what you have written, it seems that the reasons you visit bars and consume cocktails are not the same as ours. I think if you read back through these posts, you will see a lot of people saying that they visit Pegu Club for reasons that exactly contradict statements you have made. They do like watching bartenders work, they're not ultimately just "there to drink," they do think there is something to be said for having more than one kind of gin, they do go to enjoy the genius of a perfect cocktail, they do go to be "educated and have a whole 'experience,'" etc, etc, etc.

That's okay. Nothing wrong with that. Like I said, there are plenty of people who "won't get" Sushi Yasuda the same way an experienced sushi enthusiast will, or "won't get" Daniel the way an experienced fine dining enthusiast will. Doesn't mean that Sushi Yasuda isn't the brilliant sushi bar everyone says it is, though, or that Daniel isn't also great.

I should add, for what it's worth, that there's nothing insulting intended in suggesting that some people are more experienced in cocktails and therefore able to understand and appreciate things about them that others are not. I think we would all agree that this is the case with haute cuisine, sushi, opera, painting, architecture, ballet, wine, etc. Certainly I know that there are things professionals like Audrey and Dave can appreciate about cocktails on a level and in a context that I can't.
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#131 birder53

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 12:02 PM

Thank goodness Pegu is there for those who do "get it." It is not for everyone and it isn't trying to be either. I wouldn't appreciate Sushi Yasuda since while I like sushi, I'm not aware of the finer points that a sushi enthusiast would recognize and truly appreciate. If chefboy24 didn't think Pegu lived up to all the hype, then just leave it at that. I'm in the group that would go there to enjoy the "genius" of that perfectly mixed cocktail. I would definitely look to sit at the bar and enjoy the show! Someday!
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#132 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 12:15 PM

I understand what you're saying, too, Chefboy. But I don't think anybody here is calling for anything analogous to sitting around for two hours at Jean-Georges and not talking about anything but the food. To people like me, though, what you're saying is more like, sure the food at Jean-Georges is good, but the place is so BORING: why can't it be more like Tao (there's a blast from the past for ya) or Buddakan?

I think your club DJ metaphor, in a way, shows what a different place you're coming from than someone like me. Cuz I'd analogize Pegu Club more to going to a jazz club, where the appropriate thing to do is to concentrate on the music. My point being, you keep raising comparisons to party spots, which I don't think is what Pegu Club tries to be.

(Obligatory note that I don't mean to be antagonistic in the least.)

but then again ... how many gins do you need?  i need one good one. maybe 2.  and there is nothing wrong with that.

Didn't you once say you worked as a sommelier? (Sorry if I'm confusing you with someone else.)

If someone said, "how many white wines do you need? I need one good one, maybe two, and there's nothing wrong with that," wouldn't your response be pretty contemptuous?

#133 chefboy24

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 02:43 PM

well said. its just inconceivable for me to experience a place like that just for the drinks. but i guess for others its hard to really see why or even fathom the point of sitting at a sushi bar for sushi......

its not about a "party spot", per se (no pun intended), but about a total experience.

speaking of experience, i think its nice when a host or maitre d seat you at your table somewhere and say "enjoy your experience" or "enjoy yourselves" rather then "enjoy your meal."

per se would be an experience. and so is pegu club.

i'd rather be drinking interesting vin de terroir like a good burgundy anyway, i'm not much of a liquor afficianado

#134 Live It Up

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 09:49 AM

I've been dying to go to the Pegu Club since I first heard about it, but I'm on a pretty tight budget these days. However, I'm finally going splurge and go for my birthday tomorrow night. I love a well made cocktail, but I rarely drink them outside of my home for the aforementioned budget reasons. I can't do whiskey at all due to too many times overdoing it in my teens. So, what's not to be missed? I think the Jimmie Roosevelt sounds like a must, but what else? I'll probably have 3 drinks or so.

#135 slkinsey

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 10:01 AM

The Jimmy isn't currently on the menu, but they can certainly make it for you. I just had one the other night.

Honestly, your best bet is to go there, sit at the bar, look over the menu and talk to the bartenders about what you might like. That's the beauty of a place like Pegu Club.
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#136 raxelita

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 01:12 PM

My personal favorite (so far) is the Earl Grey MarTEAni, for the novelty of bergamot in a cocktail, their use of egg whites, and the balance of the drink overall.
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#137 oakapple

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 01:20 PM

I haven't been to Pegu Club yet. Is it a place to go with someone where you actually want to carry on a conversation? Or, is it all "scene"?

#138 slkinsey

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 01:24 PM

It's definitely a conversation place. That said... there is no such thing as a "conversation place" Manhattan bar on Friday or Saturday nights, and there are times it can get somewhat full, if never exactly "crowded."

But if you go there on a Tuesday or Wednesday, for example, you should be fine.
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#139 butterscotch

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 06:16 PM

oh good. i'm going there in a little while and we do want to talk.
tks for the reassurance.

#140 herbacidal

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 07:02 PM

That said... there is no such thing as a "conversation place" Manhattan bar on Friday or Saturday nights

Hey, there's got to be at least 1 or 2 on the island out of the 10,000 or so that would fit that definition on Friday or Saturday.
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#141 slkinsey

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 07:14 PM

oh good. i'm going there in a little while and we do want to talk.
tks for the reassurance.

Be sure to let us know how you liked it. :smile:
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#142 butterscotch

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 11:24 AM

wow. i really enjoyed Pegu. it's a nice atmosphere, dark, quiet, cozy feeling but spacious, nice jazz plays in the backround, and very pleasant service. i met a small group of friends, and they gave us a very comfortable table. we had so many tasty drinks it's hard to keep track of- the tantric sidecar, something with pear and a whiff of spice, and earl grey martini, the pineapple pisco sour and some sort of negroni. there were others, but it's hard to remember them all- i was catching up with friends i hadn't seen in any months, so we weren't focusing on the drinks. when i go again, i'll sit at the bar and pay attention. dark as it was, i still noticed that the drinks had lovely garnishes. they also had the most amazing aromas, i've never noticed cocktails smelling so good before- especially the pisco. how do they do it? i want to do that. wow!

between 9:30 and 1 ish, it got quite crowded, especially for a tuesday. the bar was full before 11, and most of the tables were gone by midnight. aside from spurts of rowdiness from one group at the bar (which felt really out of place) the vibe was mellow and grown up- all too rare for a lounge in nyc. we all enjoyed it a great deal. i am going back again soon.

#143 Live It Up

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 09:21 AM

Well, after all the anticipation, I was a little disappointed by Pegu Club. For our first round I had the Jimmie Roosevelt which I had read so much about here. Perhaps it was because I had already had more than my fair share of a bottle of wine, but I could barely handle it. The only flavor I could detect was that of the Cognac. My husband had the Jamaican Firefly, which I liked better than mine, but I think that after about half of it, he began to get tired of the very strong ginger flavor. For our second round we asked for suggestions from the bartender who produced two delicious drinks. For me it was a rum cobbler with fresh raspberries, and my husband got a Crescent City Cooler which had gin, pineapple juice, cointreau and other stuff I can't remember. By this point I was quite drunk, so another round was out of the question. I did have a good time, the bartender was great, and our second round was perfect, but I don't think I'll be back any time soon. Unfortunately Pegu Club will have to remain a special occasion place for me.

#144 Sneakeater

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 09:38 AM

Somebody has to say something about their Fabulous New Summer Menu.

Last night, I had a Lemon Thyme Daquiri (what it sounds like), a Lil Jig (tequila, yellow chartreuse, Thai basil, other stuff), and a [Swedish name] Fizz (aquavit, coriander, egg white, other stuff).

They were all fantastic.

The Lemon Thyme Daquiri was dangerous, cuz it's the kind of thing you could drink like seven of and not realize what you've done.

The star, though, was the Lil Jig. I wouldn't necessarily think of chartreuse with tequila. But the chartreuse and the basil gave it a unique and highly pleasing flavor. It just kind of lit up my mouth.

Edited by Sneakeater, 13 July 2006 - 10:22 AM.


#145 bgut1

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 09:11 PM

Somebody has to say something about their Fabulous New Summer Menu.

Last night, I had a Lemon Thyme Daquiri (what it sounds like), a Lil Jig (tequila, yellow chartreuse, Thai basil, other stuff), and a [Swedish name] Fizz (aquavit, coriander, egg white, other stuff).

They were all fantastic.

The Lemon Thyme Daquiri was dangerous, cuz it's the kind of thing you could drink like seven of and not realize what you've done.

The star, though, was the Lil Jig.  I wouldn't necessarily think of chartreuse with tequila.  But the chartreuse and the basil gave it a unique and highly pleasing flavor.  It just kind of lit up my mouth.

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Its funny that you mention the Lemon Thyme Daquiri. My wife and I stopped there for the first time yesterday, while waiting for a table to open up at Next Door Nobu (I know a long walk but worth it). My wife had the Daquiri and enjoyed it tremendously. I had the Pegu Club Cocktail and while flavorful, was a little strong. I pressed on for a second drink - a Ramos Gin Fizz and was glad I did. What a wonderful drink and great show. I will defintely be back. Next on my list is the Earl Grey Tea Martini and maybe an off the list drink like a Floridita Daquiri.

Edited by bgut1, 31 July 2006 - 09:41 AM.


#146 Sneakeater

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 09:38 PM

From the Summer Menu, let me also put in a plug for the French Pearl, a great drink that johnder -- or, I think, actually, johnder's incredibly lovely wife -- turned me on to.

#147 weinoo

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:37 AM

Will join in - had a couple of French Pearls the other night, as well as a ginger-y gin drink from the summer menu (name forgotten) - all awesome, as usual for Pegu.

The bartenders are incredibly nice and I do believe we're quite lucky to have this place in our city.

Finished with a pizza at Arturo's - along with Pegu, just two of the reasons I love NY so much!
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#148 Sneakeater

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:43 AM

Gin Gin Mule?

#149 weinoo

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:53 AM

Gin Gin Mule?

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That was it! And good it was.
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#150 murkcury

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 07:58 PM

Dropped by Pegu tonight and I can concur that the Gin-Gine Mule is indeed tasty. As was the French Pearl (gin, pernod, lime, mint). All the flavors are so clean and fresh and amazingly well balanced. Truly superior cocktails.