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The Pegu Club Cocktail


DrinkBoy
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Going back through the topic, as Mr. Wondrich notes earlier, the Savoy recipe was probably lifted from the Harry's ABC of 1929.  Both McElhone and "Jimmy" worked at Ciro's in London.

In that, the recipe, for better or for worse, is: 2/3 Gin, 1/6 Curacao, 1 tsp. Rose's Lime, dash orange bitters, dash angostura.    If you make it using 1 1/2 oz Gin, 1/2 of 3/4 oz Curacao, 1 generous tsp. fresh lime, and heavy dashes of bitters, it isn't bad. . . . Of course, it is nothing like the modern citrus heavy (call it "harrington-esque") take on the Pegu.

The Cocktails by Jimmy book is definitely from 1930 (I've found reviews for it), and in fact it came out at pretty much the same time that year as the Savoy book, which means that Jimmy's relatively juice-heavy version (4 parts gin to 1 part each "Curacao" and "Lime Juice," as detailed upthread) is as legitimate as Craddock's and that he must be placed at the head of that school.

I don't think we can draw any conclusions from the fact that Jimmy and Harry both worked at Ciro's, since the Pegu Club didn't appear in one of harry's books until at least four years after he left that establishment. I suspect the drink was loosely detailed in, say, 1926 or therabouts in some English publication we have yet to uncover, and we're looking at competing interpretations.

Jimmy calls for "Dry Gin"; if anyone had wanted the drink to be made with Hollands, by the 1920s they would have had to specify that.

That said, I've been playing around with Holland gin sours and finding them dangerously palatable.

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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What is our basis for supposing that "1/3" is equal to 3/4 ounces?

From page 5:

The most practical article for measuring purposes is a "gigger" [sic] which used to be in general use in America. The "gigger" is of silver plated metal, cone-shaped at both ends to contain 1/3 and 2/3 of liquor, in fact the Gordon Dry Gin Co., Ltd., used to supply a very useful "gigger" a few years ago.

So Mr. McElhone is describing something we are all familiar with with the addition detail that the small end is 1/2 the size of the large end. If one accepts the standard 1.5 oz quantity for the large end then the small end would be 3/4 oz. Might not hold up in court but in the absence of some better evidence to the contrary it seems reasonable to assume that the fractions in the book (and the Savoy?) are based off of these amounts. It certainly fits with the knowledge that the drinks served were much smaller then...in fact 2 1/4 oz of liquid when shaken or stirred will fill a 3 oz ccktail glass quite handily, which seems to be the common size for the time.

edit: fix tags

Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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If the idea is that a jigger is equal to 1.5 ounces, and we have McElhone saying that one side of the measuring device holds "2/3" and the other side holds "1/3" -- wouldn't that make "1/3" equal to a half-ounce?

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If the idea is that a jigger is equal to 1.5 ounces, and we have McElhone saying that one side of the measuring device holds "2/3" and the other side holds "1/3" -- wouldn't that make "1/3" equal to a half-ounce?

So you're suggesting that the McElhone's jigger might contain 1.5 oz. with both ends combined (i.e., "2/3" is 1 oz. and "1/3" is the remaining half-ounce)? I think Andy's suggesting that the 2/3 end is 1.5 oz. on its own, and the 1/3 end is half the volume of the 2/3 end; i.e., 3/4 oz.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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If the idea is that a jigger is equal to 1.5 ounces, and we have McElhone saying that one side of the measuring device holds "2/3" and the other side holds "1/3" -- wouldn't that make "1/3" equal to a half-ounce?

So you're suggesting that the McElhone's jigger might contain 1.5 oz. with both ends combined (i.e., "2/3" is 1 oz. and "1/3" is the remaining half-ounce)? I think Andy's suggesting that the 2/3 end is 1.5 oz. on its own, and the 1/3 end is half the volume of the 2/3 end; i.e., 3/4 oz.

That is in fact what I was trying to say, thanks. The fractions are, I think, not fractions a 1.5 oz jigger but fractions of the amount of liquid normally used in a drink (about 2 oz in this case).

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I can see the argument for either one making sense. But the quote from Barflies and Cocktails hardly seems definitive either way.

If we suppose that the jigger is more or less the same amount of liquid as the "wine-glass" from Jerry Thomas's day... then looking at most of the recipes in JT's book, it would appear that they call for around 1.5 ounces of liquid plus the odd dash or two of this or that.

I wonder when notation of recipes in thirds became the style?

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Well, for the Savoy anyway, you're talking about 2 things. What were the meaures in the source material and what were the measures they were using at the Savoy Hotel.

You've got all sorts of mixed up measures from the source material for the Savoy, from Jerry Thomas to Harry McElhone.

Of contemporary bar books to the Savoy Cocktail Book, Robert Vermiere used volume measurements. His drinks were based on a half gill pre-dilution volume. This works out to approximately 2 1/4 oz.

Another potentially relevant source is Eddie Clarke. He was an English bartender who followed Craddock as the head barman of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. In his book, "Shaking in the Sixties," his drinks are even smaller than Vermeire's, based on a volume of 2 "6-out" measures. A "6-Out" is 5/6 of an ounce. Thus his drinks work out under 2 oz, at around 1 2/3 oz pre-dilution.

That's just a little small for me, so I usually go with something around Vermeire's half gill.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Interesting. It seems as though "1/3" is equal to right around one "6-out" (0.75 versus 0.83)?

ETA: The problem with the gill is that an Imperial gill is 5 US ounces and a US gill is 4 US ounces. Indeed, the US gill is approximately 5/6ths of an Imperial gill.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Well, for the Savoy anyway, you're talking about 2 things.  What were the meaures in the source material and what were the measures they were using at the Savoy Hotel.

You've got all sorts of mixed up measures from the source material for the Savoy, from Jerry Thomas to Harry McElhone.

Of contemporary bar books to the Savoy Cocktail Book, Robert Vermiere used volume measurements.  His drinks were based on a half gill pre-dilution volume.  This works out to approximately 2 1/4 oz.

Another potentially relevant source is Eddie Clarke.  He was an English bartender who followed Craddock as the head barman of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.  In his book, "Shaking in the Sixties," his drinks are even smaller than Vermeire's, based on a volume of 2 "6-out" measures.  A "6-Out" is 5/6 of an ounce.  Thus his drinks work out under 2 oz, at around 1 2/3 oz pre-dilution.

That's just a little small for me, so I usually go with something around Vermeire's half gill.

The "out" system is a perennial source of confusion, as with a typically English approach to weights and measures it refers to how many of any particular measure will make up a gill (which is 5 imperial ounces, or approximately 4 1/2 American ounces).

British spirits measures came in regulated sizes, of which there was a dizzying profusion:

Gill

Half-Gill (= 2-out)

Third-Gill ( = 3-out)

Quarter-Gill (= 4-out)

Fifth-Gill (= 5-out)

Sixth-Gill (= 6-out)

Those are the ones I have or have seen, anyway (actually, I'm not sure about the 5-out). Anyway, this makes a 6-out measure, like Clark uses, 1/6th of 4.5 oz. No wonder they went metric.

The 3-out measure was quite common, as was the 6-out; I've been trying to get those to sync up with the 2/3-1/3 description from McElhone for years, but still can't get it to come out right.

Edited for triggernometry.

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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[...]

Those are the ones I have or have seen, anyway (actually, I'm not sure about the 5-out). Anyway, this makes a 6-out measure, like Clark uses, 1/6th of 4.5 oz. No wonder they went metric.

The 3-out measure was quite common, as was the 6-out; I've been trying to get those to sync up with the 2/3-1/3 description from McElhone for years, but still can't get it to come out right.

Edited for triggernometry.

So, uh, Clark's drinks were how big then? 2 times 1/6 of 4.5 ounces? Gah! That is far beyond my feeble grasp of fractions. And, yeah, I'll take ml anyday.

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Harry's in Paris would not have necessarily been using British measures, though? Or would they?

I've thought before about the whole 5/6 oz thing, since interestingly that is equal to 25ml, which seems to be the standard amount for British cocktail measures today. 1/6 of 4.5 oz though is .75oz, hypothetically the 1/3 end of the "gigger".

Very confusing, very interesting.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Harry's in Paris would not have necessarily been using British measures, though? Or would they?

Harry wrote the book when he was working at Ciro's, in London--but the 2-sided jigger was an American thing ("jigger," or "gigger," is an American word, a cognate of "thingamajig"). The Brits used single-sided measures. Plus, before working at Ciro's, McElhone worked at the Plaza, in New York--with a small break in between served in the trenches. So where did he see that Gordon's jigger? And who's got one?

It's all confusing as hell and I wish it would go away.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Experimenting with various styles of Pegu Clubs last night.

Actually, my favorite two were the California Sour style, a la Slanted Door, and a Gimlet style with Genever and Rose's Lime Juice. Basically the McElhone recipe, rocks and Bols Genever. Tasty.

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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What is the "California Sour style"?

The type of Pegu Club they make at Slanted Door. If I remember correctly, their recipe is based on Paul Harrington's from "Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century". Or at least based on the ratios he uses for sours in that book.

Maybe I should call it a "Bay Area Sour".

Edited by eje (log)

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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Huh. I wouldn't necessarily have associated that with California.

After all, one of the earliest Pegu Club recipes calls for 4 : 1 : 1.

Harrington's recipe calls for 3 : 1 : 1.

Dave's Esquire formula discussed above, and the one that seems to be standard at most NYC bars, is even more citrus-forward at 8 : 3 : 3 (for better comparison to the previous two, perhaps best stated as 2.6 : 1 : 1).

Ultimately, I'm not sure any coast or area can lay claim to a formula that balances equal parts of citrus with sweet. Harrington's formula, BTW, calls for Cointreu rather than curaçao.

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Ultimately, I'm not sure any coast or area can lay claim to a formula that balances equal parts of citrus with sweet. 

Why don't we avoid any West Coast-East Coast beef and call them the "Jimmy's Pegu" (after Jimmy of Ciro's; lotsa juice)and the "Harry's Pegu" (after Harry Craddock; less juice). Readers of My Secret Life will find the discussion amusing, anyway.

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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Why don't we avoid any West Coast-East Coast beef and call them the "Jimmy's Pegu" (after Jimmy of Ciro's; lotsa juice)and the "Harry's Pegu" (after Harry Craddock; less juice). Readers of My Secret Life will find the discussion amusing, anyway.

Chuckle. OK, let's avoid any bi-coastal beef.

I tried the Jimmy's Pegu last night and it didn't do much for me. 4-1-1, right?

2 oz Plymouth Gin, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 1/2 oz Curacao, dash of angostura orange and angostura aromatic.

Though I do have to say, I do not particularly care for Angostura Orange Bitters in this cocktail. So that might have had something to do with it.

I have concluded I much prefer Regan's, Fee's, or a combination of Regan's and Fee's Orange bitters in the Pegu Club. Maybe if you just used a drop or two of the Angostura Orange.

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I tried the Jimmy's Pegu last night and it didn't do much for me.  4-1-1, right?

2 oz Plymouth Gin, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 1/2 oz Curacao, dash of angostura orange and angostura aromatic.

Though I do have to say, I do not particularly care for Angostura Orange Bitters in this cocktail.  So that might have had something to do with it.

Quot potatores, tot sententiae: sua Caudigalla Sodalitatis Pegus cuique, to paraphrase some dead old Roman or another--which is to say, even the most fundamental issues of mixology, such as how to balance a cocktail, are governed entirely by the taste of the balancer.

To me, 2 oz Plymouth, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz orange curacao (var. Grand Marnier) and a dash each of Angostura and Angostura orange sounds....

...okay, I had to go make myself one. It's utterly delightful. I agree that a light hand must be used with the Angostura orange, though; most pungent.

Edited to correct hiatus in manuscript.

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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Well, I have to admit a slight preference for slightly less gin, slightly more lime juice, and slightly, slightly more, uh, cointreau. Ooops.

I also really like the gimlet-i-fied version, especially with Genever.

No pasa nada. Divert your eyes.

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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