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DrinkBoy

The Pegu Club Cocktail

88 posts in this topic

Admin: split from the Sidecar thread.

...the best surprise of the evening was the Pegu Club...

Pegu Club

2 oz London dry gin

3/4 oz orange curaçao (or Grand Marnier)

3/4 oz lime juice

dash Angostura bitters

dash orange bitters

Shake well with cracked ice.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The Pegu has been the drink I've been teaching folks around here lately. It is an excellent drink with wonderful complexities. The recipe above is slightly modified from the traditional/original version. You are using way too much lime juice, I think this would make the drink too tart (although I'll want to try this just to verify). The drink as it is often listed in the older books from the 30's is along the lines of:

2/3 part dry gin

1/3 part Curaçao

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash angostura bitters

(I hate it when recipes mix "parts" with real measurements... but that is the way most of the recipes listed it)

-Robert

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This is a great drink deserving of more attention. My first Pegu Club -- in what turned out to be a somewhat prophetic occasion for reasons that will become clear in the coming months -- was mixed up by Audrey at Bemelmans. I loved it and it has since become a regular at the slkinsey household.

CocktailDB has two Pegu Club recipes. One is same formula you give, and their annotations indicate that they think it's 2 ounces of gin to one ounce of curaçao. The other one has 1 3/4 ounces of gin to 1/2 ounce of curaçao and 1/4 ounce of lime juice.

The second recipe would be a much more tart drink, of course. It has more lime juice (1/4 ounce versus 1/6 ounce) and substantially less curaçao, which is the sweetening agent in the drink. I'll have to try both when I get home.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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As far as I remember, the recipe I printed (the one in kvltrede's original post)came from trying the Savoy version and finding it way too sweet for my taste. I may have swiped the revised proportions from Harrington's book (I seem to recall a very limey Pegu Club in there, but I don't have it handy) or I may have just kept adding lime juice until it balanced out the sweetness of the curacao. There's probably a happy medium between 3/4 oz and 1 teaspoon, but I think using twice as much curacao as lime juice, as the second CocktailDB recipe has, would still make a drink that's pretty sweet. Not that there's anything wrong with that....


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Harrington's recipe calls for 1.5 oz. gin, .5 oz. each of Cointreau and lime juice, and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Since that's where I first encountered it, that's the way I've always made it, so I have nothing to compare it to. It is tart, but balanced.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
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Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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It's interesting to look at these forumlae standardized for the same amount of base liquor. Below are the various ratios of gin:curaçao:lime

4 : 1.5 : 1.5 (Dave)

4 : 2.0 : 0.3 (Robert and cocktailDB #1)

4 : 1.1 : 0.6 (cocktailDB #2)


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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So, for the sake of scientiic research, I've taken it upon myself to experiment with these variations on the Pegu. Here are my comments...

4 : 1.5 : 1.5 (Dave)

I found this to be too sour. It should be noted that I've been accused of favoring cocktails on the slightly sweeter side, although I personally don't really think that is the case.

4 : 1.1 : 0.6 (cocktailDB #2)

This wasn't bad, but there was something missing from the 'character' of this cocktail that I've grown accustomed to. The bitters spicyness of the bitters just seemed totally hidden

4 : 2.0 : 0.3 (Robert and cocktailDB #1)

Of the three, this is still my preferred version, perhaps it is just because that is what I've become used to. However, after having all three together, this cocktail did appear perhaps too much on the sweet side.

So I went back to my base 4-2-1 ratio that I use for the sidecar, and that just didn't quite work here. I'm not sure if it was the gin or the curacao, but the flavors were just that, flavors, not cohesive components of the final product.

More research is perhaps in order... however not tonight...

-Robert

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Very cool, Robert! I'll have to give this a try myself and see what I think. What gin and curaçao did you use? I'll likely use Tanqueray and Grand Marnier, because that's what I have around.

Harrington's ratios are fairly similar to Dave's at 4 : 1.3 : 1.3.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I was using Tanqueray gin and Dekuyper orange curaçao. Using Grand Marnier, or Cointreau will definately change things.

-Robert

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I was using Tanqueray gin and Dekuyper orange curaçao. Using Grand Marnier, or Cointreau will definately change things.

I can see how using Cointreau would change things -- it's triple sec, not orange curaçao. But isn't Grand Marnier orange curaçao? I thought it was more or less the "Cointreau of orange curaçao" (e.g., simply the best bottling of its type).


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I can see how using Cointreau would change things -- it's triple sec, not orange curaçao...

It's more then just the "category", it's also the quality. Generic Triple Sec and Cointreau provide very different character to cocktails. A sidecar with Triple Sec is just a cocktail, with Cointreau, it's devine.

To a limited extent, I lump curaçao, triple sec, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier in the same bucket. A sweet orange flavored liqueur. If you don't have one, use the other. Yes, it will make a difference, but frankly I find the difference between Cointreau and Triple Sec to be greater then that between Cointreau and Grand Marnier.

-Robert

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Interestingly, the Pegu Club is the featured cocktail on Daniel Reichert's vintagecocktails.com. He gives the formula (which is also the formula from Dr. Cocktail's book) as 1.5 ounces gin, 0.5 ounces Cointreau (not curaçao) and 0.75 ounces lime juice.

Interesting is his description of the drink: "a wonderfully brisk and bracing sensation . . . reminiscent of an invigorating bitter-grapefruit sorbet." That's an interesting way of thinking about it, and it says "balanced in favor of the sour and bitter elements over the sweet elements" to me.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I can see how using Cointreau would change things -- it's triple sec, not orange curaçao...

It's more then just the "category", it's also the quality. Generic Triple Sec and Cointreau provide very different character to cocktails. A sidecar with Triple Sec is just a cocktail, with Cointreau, it's devine.

To a limited extent, I lump curaçao, triple sec, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier in the same bucket. A sweet orange flavored liqueur. If you don't have one, use the other. Yes, it will make a difference, but frankly I find the difference between Cointreau and Triple Sec to be greater then that between Cointreau and Grand Marnier.

-Robert

Well, as far as quality and proof are concerned I think we can lump Cointreau and Grand Marnier together as being head and shoulders above the lesser orange-flavored liqueurs but there is a notable difference between the two: Cointreau has a neutral spirit base while Grand Marnier has a cognac base. The type of oranges used differs within each classification but it seems to me that it's the liqueur's base that has the greater impact on flavor. Does the general eGullet consensus differ from this assessment?

Cocktaildb's Cointreau entry states that Cointreau has a brandy base but brandy isn't mentioned on the bottle or at the Cointreau website. I suppose that Cointreau may be made with unaged brandy--which would explain its lack of color--but that strikes me as unlikely. Anyone know for sure? If your liqueur has a brandy or cognac base don't you make that an obvious selling point?

As for curacao, the Marie Brizard website shows that their orange curacao has a cognac base but I don't think that the Hiram Walker I have at home does. Neither cognac nor brandy are mentioned on the HW Curacao bottle pictured at Cocktaildb. I'm pretty sure this is the same label as is on the bottle I have at home. Is curacao so loosely defined that some fall in the Cointreau-style column and others in the Grand Marnier-style column?

If so, despite the whole Triple Sec/Curacao area being somewhat grey, I think we have to classify Cointreau, Triple Sec and any non-Cognac/Brandy Curacaos together and lump Grand Marnier, Gran Gala, the Cognac/Brandy Curacaos (like the Marie Brizard version) and maybe Mandarin Napoleon together. Of course, that said, I'd use Grand Marnier over a lesser triple sec even if it was technically "incorrect" according to the recipe. I've compared a Gran Gala Sidecar with a Hiram Walker Sidecar and the Gran Gala Sidecar was better even if it was "wrong".

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?

Then again, Paul Harrington calls the Pegu Club the "Pegu Cocktail" at his website and he specifies Cointreau. . . which takes us back to square one, I suppose. Anyone have any idea which liqueur was more likely to be available in Burma during the decades prior to Burmese independence?

Note: Mr. H's ratio is 3:1:1.

Pegu Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin

1/2 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce lime juice

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with cracked ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass.

He writes:

...the Pegu makes for a pungent drink that stimulates the senses and soothes the soul.

Although we literally can't stomach more that one or two of these acerbic cocktails, it's just as well. The Pegu's composition tends to make us saucy, so, for the sake of those around us, we never overindulge. Instead, we let this drink organize our thoughts into smart, laconic streams that seem to flow as smoothly as chants from the temples in the jungle...

So, he likes 'em tart. I'm with Mr. H and Mr. W.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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When a group of us were at Bemmelman's in October, Audrey set up a side by side comparison of Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Marie Brizzard Triple Sec and Marie Brizzard Curacao. I agree that the main flavor difference was the brandy base (in the GM and the MB Curacao) vs. the neutral base in the Cointreau and the MB triple sec. They seemed markedly sweeter to me as well.

As for the difference between the Marie Brizzard products and the others, I could tell a difference, but I'm not sure it would come through that much in a cocktail.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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When a group of us were at Bemmelman's in October, Audrey set up a side by side comparison of Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Marie Brizzard Triple Sec and Marie Brizzard Curacao. I agree that the main flavor difference was the brandy base (in the GM and the MB Curacao) vs. the neutral base in the Cointreau and the MB triple sec. They seemed markedly sweeter to me as well.

...

Sorry if I'm being dense this foggy morning, but could you clarify which tasted sweeter? (the brandy-based ones?)


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I was making a Pegu Club the other evening and didn't have quite enough lime juice (I use the Dave/Paul Harrington proportions) so I augmented it with a very little bit of blood orange juice. It was a very good variation, and a beautiful color as well.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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spiritchild posted an interesting Pegu Club-inspired variation over in another thread:

Hello, I've just joined.  I have just finished my own version of the Pegu.  Taking into consideration the sweetness brought by the Rose's to the original recipes, I used Calamansi lime juice, sweeter than regular lime juice.  It worked well.  At the risk of enraging any purists here, I also added an egg white.  I really like the mouthfeel it created.  I shook a few extra bitters (aromatic) on top of the foam and swirled them decoratively.  The drink is quite pleasant; visually and flavor-wise.

Kind of like a Pegu/Pisco Sour thing going on there.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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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

1/3 Curaçao.

2/3 Dry Gin.

Shake well and strain into

cocktail glass."

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:

"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.

--DW

Edited to add the point, which I completely omitted the first time around.


Edited by Splificator (log)

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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That's the stuff, Dave! Thanks for the history. I'm off to try a 4:1:1 Pegu Club right now. . .


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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That's the stuff, Dave!  Thanks for the history.  I'm off to try a 4:1:1 Pegu Club right now. . .

I just tried a 4:1:1 Pegu Club, trying to match an exquisite example from the bar of the same name. Not it. Is anyone willing to share Audrey's recipe?

I used Citadelle Gin and Grand Marnier (Pegu Club uses Tanqueray and MB Curacao), and fresh lime juice, one dash Angostura, one dash Regan's orange bitters. It came out much more tart than I remember.

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There's your problem: MB Orange curaçao is sweeter than Grand Marnier and balances the drink differently. Afaik, Pegu Club's formula isn't exactly 4:1:1 -- I think it's a touch higher on the curaçao and lime -- but it's close.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Taking Sam's cue I've moved the following digression from this thread to this more appropriate Pegu Club-specific thread:

What gin are you using?

If you haven't already done so you may want to check out this Pegu Club thread from early last year.

[...]

Also, I'm not familiar with Creole Shrubb

[...]

...I use Plymouth gin, unless a recipe specifies otherwise. I know I should get a proper London Dry gin like Beefeater. I just really like Plymouth.

Clement's Liqueur Creole Shrubb is a rum based orange liqueur from Martinique with some spice elements....

...I'm also using mexican key limes. I guess I should have mentioned that. They are a bit tarter than the usual persian limes. I get a big bag of for a couple bucks at hispanic stores. You get about 1/4 ounce of juice per lime. I find more than that, in a typical 4-5oz "up" drink, gets a bit sharp.

~Erik

Count me in as a big fan of Plymouth gin, Erik. In fact, it’s my default Martini gin (5:1 w/a large twist). But, that said, since the price of Plymouth went up a while back I don't think I've used for anything else except Martinis so I can’t say whether it’s your ingredients or if the Pegu just ain’t your cuppa hooch. What I can say, though, is that Beefeater and regular Bombay certainly make the kinda Pegu that’s in my list of Top Five Cocktails.

As for those Mex. key limes if they’re anything like the key limes I get at Trader Joe’s occasionally I think I’d recommend that you pick up a couple regular limes for your next Pegu. The Trader Joe’s key limes certainly improve a Caiprinha but I don’t know that they’re the best choice for a Pegu Club. They are kinda sharp in a way that regular limes aren't.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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Count me in as a big fan of Plymouth gin, Erik.  In fact, it’s my default Martini gin (5:1 w/a large twist).  But, that said, since the price of Plymouth went up a while back I don't think I've used for anything else except Martinis so I can’t say whether it’s your ingredients or if the Pegu just ain’t your cuppa hooch.

Kurt,

Oh, I'm sorry, did I give the impression I didn't like this version? No, no, I liked this one quite a lot.

What I didn't like was my previous sloppily measured version with a cheap Curacao.

It is unfortunate that Plymouth's price has gone up in most stores, but I've still got a couple secrit places that sell it for around $10, so until they run out, I'm golden.

As for those Mex. key limes...

Yeah, I'll admit they probably aren't ideal for a Pegu. That's why I dialed the amount down. They're just what I had in the house. They are tasty in a daiquiri or caipirinha, though.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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[...]

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on a 4:1:1 (or 4:1.5:1.5) Pegu.

Kurt,

I'll be sure to come home from my next trip to the liquor store with a bottle of beefeaters, and give it a try with plain old limes. Still unclear about the best Curacao substitute. I don't like the Bols Curacao I have, so that is out. Cointreau? Gran Torres? Gran Gala? Luxardo Triplum? Curacao of Curacao?

~Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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If you can get it, use Marie Brizzard orange curaçao.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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