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slkinsey

Pegu Club

207 posts in this topic

Here's hoping that my habit of starting early pays off! :wacko:

Some more Pegu news...I'm just getting to reading my October issue of Gourmet, and who should be mentioned in an article about the perfect ice cube than Audrey Saunders!

Cheers for subtle PR! :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Went last night (Monday) at about 8 pm - the bar was full but the seats we're about 1/3 occupied. Sat in very plush lounge chairs and had a Pegu Club cocktail (outstanding) and my fiancee had a Whiskey Smash (she's a Dale DeGroff fan). Both were very good - the Pegu Club had an interesting taste of fresh lavendar. By 9 pm the bar was empty. The service was nice, but I doubt she knew much about cocktails. Next time I go I'll go a little later so I can sit at the bar and order directly from the 'tenders - there's lots of bottles of things infusing behind the bar - I'd like to see what's going on there. Prices are $11-$16 for cocktails and are well worth it. Food ranges from $7-$18 and looks decent.

One great thing is that they sell Peychaud's bitters at $6 a bottle - these are quite elusive outside of The Big Easy. Sazeracs here I come!

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rhubarbd - I'm obviously not Audrey, but I'm not sure what you mean :)

Do you mean the thread of unending praise for Pegu is impressive? If so, its not PR. Its actually that great of a place! If not, I maybe didn't get your drift..

cheers

beth

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rhubarbd:

if you're into cocktails...you know who Audrey Saunders is and why the Pegu Club is a big deal.

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rhubarbd:

if you're into cocktails...you know who Audrey Saunders is and why the Pegu Club is a big deal.

True, true...but good PR does help you get small but effective placements in major magazines. It's actually amazing how much of what we consider news and journalism is really PR in disguise...

In this case, though, it makes me happy! :biggrin: Plus, i learned all about ice and which kind to use for which drink. Very exciting stuff.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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rhubarbd:

if you're into cocktails...you know who Audrey Saunders is and why the Pegu Club is a big deal.

True, true...but good PR does help you get small but effective placements in major magazines. It's actually amazing how much of what we consider news and journalism is really PR in disguise...

In this case, though, it makes me happy! :biggrin: Plus, i learned all about ice and which kind to use for which drink. Very exciting stuff.

Nathan, not only do i know cocktails, but I've followed Audrey, her mentors, and the places she's been affiliated with for years. I did not mean to imply that PR alone was responsible for her success; i was simply asking a question - perhaps too quickly.

Audrey is smart, talented, detail-oriented, and business-savvy. She sensed a niche in the marketplace that was right for her and her partners ... and she jumped in with panache and professionalism. She's worked hard to get where she is, and the praise for her abilities is justified.

It is equally true - just as Megan posted - that strategic PR helps you get where you want to get ... especially if you have a worthwhile story to tell. And the best restaurateurs/mixologists etc. create a team (from FOH staff to marketing consultants) that understand and appreciate their concept - and do everything it takes to execute it well.

And baw - it's not the unending praise for Pegu that's made an impression on me (though kudos to them for carrying it off so well). It's the high-level nature of the placements - in tandem with the praise - that makes all the difference.

Hope i've made myself clearer!

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I’ve really been enjoying the Pegu Club. Going there often, learning some new drinks, etc. So I’m reluctant to say anything at all critical especially because it is such a labor of love. That said. . .

Last night while sat in front of another delicious Juniperitivo, a stainless steel shaker was launched in the air, did a sextuple flip, bounced off a door frame and clattered to the floor. As a former member of a juggling troupe I can hardly be critical of the occasional dropped ball, however there is something anathama about the vibe at Pegu and the “Cocktail”-esque flingings and spinnings of containers behind the bar. After one experience of this I was befuddled, although also curious as to how the adroit fellow would do with devil sticks or a diablo, but I ultimately assumed he’d be trained out of his highjinks. Now though, three visits hence and I’m starting to wonder how he’d do with fire clubs or running chainsaws or as part of a duo with Smerdyakov of the famous juggling Brothers Karamazov. It seems that the flim-flummery is becoming institutionalized.

Maybe I’m alone in experiencing his theatrics as dissonant with gestalt of the bar. In any case, the guy is a killer drinks mixer


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Having spent quite a bit of time at Pegu I have never seen Septuple flips behind the bar. Occationaly things are dropped Behind every bar in the world. When dealing with wet, icy metal, and glass impliments (which circus folk don't have to contend with), in the chaotic, fast paced world of a cocktail lounge, sometimes things will succumb to the laws of gravity. And with the rubber mats on the floor nothing "clatters" when it hits the floor.

I can assure you that this will not happen again, since most Pegu employees read this sight. The bartender is probably mortified that this small slip has been brought to the attention of his bosses. I'm sure he will be properly taken to task before his next shift. Thank you for helping to keep the gestalt intact. I'm sure that everyones experiance will be better now.

I agree that "cocktailesque", flair bartending is an abomination. If you watch the movie you will see that it takes two guys three minutes to pour one drink. I have never seen that happen at Pegu. As I understand it any spins or flips are for the pourpose of getting any acess moisture out of the tins, so the cocktails will be as pristine as possible.

I once saw a flamed twist fizzel and not ignite. To avoid future embarrassment, I say, no more showmanship. Let the bartenders of NYC, stop any flim-flam. Make the drinks, and present them to the customer. No more, no less. Wipe those tins out with a bar towel. Muddle, with intent and pourpose. Show no joy in your craft. If a bartender wants to be on stage let them do Shakespear. If a customer wants to be entertained, let them drink at TGI Fridays. At a serious bar Everything should be serious.


Edited by Alchemist (log)

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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A certain amount of showmanship has been part of the bartending craft ever since there has been a bartending craft. Think of Jerry Thomas pouring a flaming arc of whiskey, boiling water and sugar between two tumblers as he made his famous Blue Blazer (click here for a picture of JT making one). Snapping the shaker back after pouring the last drop into the glass, flaming a twist, twirling the Sazerac glass to coat it with absinthe, flipping a closed Boston shaker in your hand to put the mixing glass on top before shaking, breaking the seal with a special slap, lifting the mixing glass high to watch the last few drops fall back into the metal cup, twirling the muddler in your fingers to shake off the rinsing water, pouring from the crack between the metal cup and the mixing glass instead of using the Hawthorne strainer, etc. -- these are all the sort of things that have been part of a skilled bartender's repertoire. I think we all agree that there is a big difference between these things and the kind of juggling one sees from Vegas-style bartenders.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with simply measuring the liquors, shaking the drink and straining it into the glass. And there are plenty of highly skilled bartenders who prefer this method.

Ultimately the proof is in the product. If the drink is made with a certain amount of joie de vivre and, dare I say, flair -- that's okay by me so long as the drink is good. All too often for the juggling bartender the product is secondary to the show. Needless to say, this is not the case with respect to the bartenders at Pegu.

In terms of "authenticity" and "old school vibe" it strikes me as entirely appropriate that some of the bartenders at Pegu have more flair in their technique than others.

I do have to say, having been to Pegu Club many times at this point -- sometimes straight to closing -- that I've never seen any flair go over the top there. Maybe once or twice I've seen a metal cup dropped (never one with anything in it). That happens sometimes no matter where you go. I've also been there when the ice in a shaker exploded and the shaker slipped open and rained a little liquid on a customer at the bar. These things happen when you sit at a bar and someone is shaking a drink three feet away from you. I should point out, I suppose, that whoever was doing the shaking when the shaker slipped open was not someone who incorporated any flair -- might even have been Audrey, so it can happen to anyone.

Flair is an interesting topic of discussion in and of itself. If we would like to continue discussion of flair in general, please let's start a thread in the Fine Spirits and Cocktails Forum. I've been wanting to sound out thoughts on flair ever since I saw a competition on television for "World's Best Bartender" -- which as far as I could tell was a juggling contest.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Went to Pegu around 10:30 friday night, and it was still fairly empty which meant there were a few spots left at the bar. The only spots for two were at the end against the wall. Near here behind the "wall" is where they seem to mix the table drinks. Originally I was thinking being in the center would be best, because that way I could listen to more of what the bartender was saying when he was helping others. Though that certainly would have been nice, I got to see an awful lot of drinks being made from my vantage point for tables.

I started off with a pegu club cocktail, lets just say I felt obligated to try it. The blend of fruitiness, bitterness, and strength was a very good mix, and went down smooth. Really too smooth, pegu's drinks are far too easy to consume, and I had to make a concerted effort to drink slowly. The glasses of water were a good way to do this, and were attentively refilled. I did enjoy the pegu club cocktail, but I was not wooed by it, I wouldn't say. My companion got a gin-gin mule, which was not to my tastes. It was very good, but I like the bite of alcohol in my drinks, and in the gin-gin mule the ginger cut the bite far too perfectly.

I saw a lot of drinks being made with egg whites, and asked our bartender about it. I got a good explanation, and he probably could have steered me towards trying one if he chose to. We were dallying about a second drink, and he dropped off another menu so we could have a gander. The chartreuse caught our collective eye, and we asked about it. We got a mini-history rundown on it, and a good description of the liquor. Being pegu club, he poured us a small amount to try. Actually, he poured it, and then lit it on fire to cut some of the bite so we could taste more of the flavor. I can't believe I have never had this stuff before, and was swooned by the chartreuse.

My wife next wanted to follow hers up with a tantric sidecar, due to her need for fruitiness and the drops of chartreuse in it. Our bartender (toby) thought she should stick to gin, and made something in the fruity-gin vein. The kicker to that drink was the blackberry syrup he had made that morning from blackberries bought at a farmstand. The drink was topped with one of these berries, which was probably the largest one I've ever seen. The syrup was a fantastic addition, though apparently the berry itself was rather bitter.

Knowing that I had an extremely knowledgeable bartender on my side, I felt it would be a waste to order off the menu again. I would urge others if they are sitting at the bar to try and learn something, and branch out a bit. Not that I have to mention that here...I mentioned that I'd like to have something with a little more bite to it, and that I really liked the chartreuse. He asked if I preferred bitter or sweet, and asked my opinion on campari. With the knowledge that I thought campari's primary flavor was disagreeable, but not because of its bitterness, he knew what he was going to make for me. In the end, I got what he called a "Daisy May". I think that was the name at least. The drink was, if I remember correctly, comprised of overstock organic gin, junipero, and chartreuse. A generous bush of mint was nestled on the top of it. This was the most perfect, most amazing, most sublime cocktail I have ever had. The mint made it so that I could get the drink to my mouth without too much alcohol in the nose, and the flavor was just...incredible. This was the drink I wanted, absolutely perfect. For me it was the cocktail equivalent of a finely seared foie gras with cracked pepper and fleur de sel.

Everyone: Place yourself in the hands of the Pegu bartenders. I cannot imagine them steering you wrong.


Edited by scovilleFiend (log)

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Thanks for the report, scovilleFiend. It captured what I like best about the place: the possibility to learn and taste new things, and that the bartenders really try and tailor things to your individual taste. I've found that after going a number of times, the bartenders even remember your personal preferences from visit to visit, and try to suggest things you might like, much as Toby was steering scovilleFiend and his wife. Toby and Phil in particular are a real wealth of information and always eager to try new things out with you, but all of the bar staff is great. Its a real treat having such personal interaction with the bartenders. I was just there tonight, a Sunday. It was very mellow.. I (still) highly recommend checking the place out on a Sunday-Tuesday if you want to be sure of a quiet time.


Edited by baw (log)

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Knowing that I had an extremely knowledgeable bartender on my side, I felt it would be a waste to order off the menu again.

It may be a mistake to think it's a "waste to order off the menu," unless you've tried everything on the menu. The menu was compiled by Audrey Saunders and features many of her creations. Audrey is one of the foremost creators of cocktails working today, and it would be a shame to miss out on any of her drinks. Don't miss out on the Tantris Sidecar, the Punt e Mes Fizz, the Gin Gin Mule, the Old Cuban and the Earl Gray MarTEAni. . . and don't be afraid to ask about any other Saunders specials (the "Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini" is a favorite of mine).

This is to say that a big part of what makes Pegu Club special is what Audrey and partners have done in bringing together one of the top bar staffs in the country, laying down the vibe and giving the talented staff unprecedented space in which to work and materials with which to work. But a big part of it is also just Audrey.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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This is to say that a big part of what makes Pegu Club special is what Audrey and partners have done in bringing together one of the top bar staffs in the country, laying down the vibe and giving the talented staff unprecedented space in which to work and materials with which to work. But a big part of it is also just Audrey.

I have enviously been reading this thread since it's inception, and I can hardly wait until I can make my first visit to Pegu Club. I've sent everyone I know that lives or works in New York there so I could live vicariously through them and check this place out. Audrey has been particularly generous toward me, a fellow professional, who aspires to someday be half as good at setting up an amazingly cool bar. I'm eagerly awaiting my opportunity to come visit and thank her personally for the inspiration and guidance.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Audrey, i gotta ask:  who does your PR?  Impressive.

A few weeks ago, the subject of PR was raised at the Pegu Club and I learned Audrey and her partners do their own publicity the old fashioned way, they make better cocktails in pleasant surroundings. Do a good job and the thirsty world will beat a path to your door, even without a sign visible from the street.

Actually, everything I've seen about the Pegu Club in the press was written by writers that got the story the old fashioned way, by getting out their pens and paper and going to the source. Not to say there hasn't been plenty written about the Pegu, but I wouldn't call it PR.

Like eGullet, when you find something that's really good, you want to tell their friends about it.


Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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I work at a restaurant about a block from Pegu Club, and last night which was my Friday, when I got off my day shift on the line at about 6:00, I decided to give it a try. I was enormously impressed.

First, let me say that I was dressed inappropriately for the exceptionally sexy environs. Jeans, short sleeve shirt, boots. I had also just gotten off work on the line so was sweaty and more than likely smelled a little bit like food. The staff was extraordinarily welcoming (which I had hoped they would be). The hostess was pleasant. Chad, the bartender, was extremely helpful and made me two wonderful drinks from the menu. First I started with the Whiskey Smash, a drink of muddled lemons, mint, and rye. It was refreshing and light with no cloying sweetness. Then I had the Jamaican Firefly which is homemade ginger beer and dark rum. It was the best, most satisfying after work drink I have ever had. The garnish was a spicy piece of candied ginger. What a wonderful concoction. Chad and I chatted about cocktails and booze a bit (a topic about which I am admittedly a novice) but he was also in tune enough with my need to relax that he left me alone to read my book for some time. As a snack I had the smoked trout deviled eggs, which were delicious.

I am counting the days until I can go back. (Which will likely be on my next "Friday").

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I was in Sunday night, and these guys are on top of their sh*&. It is a geat place and the bartenders are willing to make anything to suit your taste. Some of the best barkeeps around, I would highly recomend Toby and Phil. I love Pegu :wub: as I previously have said I live in north Jersey and I have made this my local.


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

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rhubarbd:

if you're into cocktails...you know who Audrey Saunders is and why the Pegu Club is a big deal.

True, true...but good PR does help you get small but effective placements in major magazines. It's actually amazing how much of what we consider news and journalism is really PR in disguise...

In this case, though, it makes me happy! :biggrin: Plus, i learned all about ice and which kind to use for which drink. Very exciting stuff.

Nathan, not only do i know cocktails, but I've followed Audrey, her mentors, and the places she's been affiliated with for years. I did not mean to imply that PR alone was responsible for her success; i was simply asking a question - perhaps too quickly.

Audrey is smart, talented, detail-oriented, and business-savvy. She sensed a niche in the marketplace that was right for her and her partners ... and she jumped in with panache and professionalism. She's worked hard to get where she is, and the praise for her abilities is justified.

It is equally true - just as Megan posted - that strategic PR helps you get where you want to get ... especially if you have a worthwhile story to tell. And the best restaurateurs/mixologists etc. create a team (from FOH staff to marketing consultants) that understand and appreciate their concept - and do everything it takes to execute it well.

And baw - it's not the unending praise for Pegu that's made an impression on me (though kudos to them for carrying it off so well). It's the high-level nature of the placements - in tandem with the praise - that makes all the difference.

Hope i've made myself clearer!

For the record, our ice piece had been in the works for quite some time and it was just coincidence (a happy one from my point of view) that Pegu Club's opening coincided with the issue in which the piece finally ran. I can't speak for any other "major magazine," but as far as I can tell Audrey don't need no stinkin' PR person.

Best, James

James Rodewald

Drinks Editor

Gourmet

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For the record, our ice piece had been in the works for quite some time and it was just coincidence (a happy one from my point of view) that Pegu Club's opening coincided with the issue in which the piece finally ran. I can't speak for any other "major magazine," but as far as I can tell Audrey don't need no stinkin' PR person.

Best, James

James Rodewald

Drinks Editor

Gourmet

Forgive my cynicsim - I must be hanging out with too many PR flacks! That said, if Audrey needs someone to sing Pegu's praises, she's got one right here - for free. :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Well, just got home (we started with an early dinner) from a lovely evening at Pegu. I partook of a Fitty-Fitty, at the recommendation of our fearless forum host (slkinsey), and it was wonderful - delicious and refreshing. Definitively alcoholic, but not overwhelming. I am now a convert to the twist (in lieu of my usual, the onion), and to the gin martini in lieu of the vodka.

My second (and last, thanks to four glasses of Cabernet with dinner) cocktail was an Earl Grey Mar-Tea-ni, which I really, really enjoyed. It solidified my new committment to gin, and my appreciaton for the accomplishments of the miraculous egg - egg whites make this a light, foamy concoction and save it from being anything close to a gimmicky ubiquitous-tini. Yum - well done, yet again, Audrey. :biggrin:

I do have to say - I prefer sitting at the bar and taking advantage of the bartenders' expertise, but this is harder to do with three people. Next time, I'll take only one and make sure to let the staff guide me.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Damn missed you guys again :sad:. Well there is not much to add other then that PEGU :wub: is the best. Good people and good libations, what more can you ask for.


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

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Got to have cocktails with some folks last Sunday at Pegu while I was in town for some business- what a beautiful place!! Great for groups with the nice round tables as well as by yourself.

I started with the Pegu Club cocktail as I think you have to try a namesake- excellent cocktail, beautiful glasses!

Next I had the gin gin mule which I really liked, this went down a bit too easy. Loved the candied ginger they served with it.

I also would love to go and hang out at the bar- next time I'm in town!

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Do they take reservations? At 11:30 on a Saturday, what type of wait to expect?

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Not sure about reservations but I was over there last sat and had no problem but I was alone, it might depend on the number in your party. You should give them a call 212-473-PEGU and prepare for bliss.


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

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