The Pegu Club cocktail is a gin-based cocktail that was the signature drink of the Pegu Club, a British colonial-era club located just outside Rangoon, Burma. The club was named after the Pegu River and was frequented by senior government officials, military officials, and prominent businessmen.
The Pegu Club cocktail first appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, but its popularity waned after World War II. However, in recent years, the cocktail has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to cocktail bars like Audrey Saunders’ Pegu Club in New York City. The cocktail’s flavor profile of gin, lime juice, and orange liqueur, with hints of bitters and herbs, makes it a refreshing and sophisticated alternative to classic cocktails like the Martini or Margarita.
The Pegu Club cocktail has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. It was first mentioned in the 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock, who credits the drink to the Pegu Club in Burma (now known as Myanmar). The Pegu Club was a bar and night club built in the 1880s to serve British soldiers stationed near Rangoon, Burma. The club was named after the nearby Pegu River, which was an important waterway for trade and transportation.
The Pegu Club cocktail was invented by military officials who frequented the club. The cocktail was made with London dry gin, orange curaçao, lime juice, and bitters. It quickly became a favorite among British soldiers and other expats in Southeast Asia. The drink eventually made its way to London and became popular among the British upper class.
During the era of imperialism, the Pegu Club cocktail was a symbol of British power and influence in Southeast Asia. However, with the rise of prohibition in the United States, the cocktail fell out of favor and was largely forgotten.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the Pegu Club cocktail saw a resurgence in popularity. Bartender Audrey Saunders founded The Pegu Club bar in New York City in 2005 and helped to jumpstart the cocktail renaissance in the city. She brought back the classic cocktail and introduced it to a new generation of drinkers.
How to Make It
- 2 oz gin
- 3/4 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz orange curaçao
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Chilled cocktail glass
- Fill the cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add the gin, orange curaçao, lime juice, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters to the shaker.
- Shake the ingredients well for about 10-15 seconds to combine and chill the drink.
- Strain the cocktail into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a lime twist.
While the classic Pegu Club Cocktail recipe is a perfect balance of gin, lime juice, orange curacao, and bitters, there are several variations of this classic cocktail that you can try.
Use different types of gin
One way to change up the flavor profile of the Pegu Club Cocktail is to use different types of gin. You can use a London Dry gin for a classic taste, or try a more floral gin for a lighter and more aromatic drink. You can also experiment with different types of bitters to add complexity to the cocktail. For example, you can use grapefruit bitters for a more citrusy flavor or lavender bitters for a more floral flavor.
A dry gin is recommended for making a classic Pegu Club cocktail. Some popular choices include Beefeater, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire. However, feel free to experiment with different gins to find the one that best suits your taste.
Another way to change up the Pegu Club Cocktail is to add herbs or spices. Muddled mint is a popular addition to the cocktail and can add a refreshing twist to the drink. You can also add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg for a warm and cozy flavor.
If you’re a fan of margaritas or daiquiris, you can try a Pegu Club variation that incorporates these flavors. For example, you can add a splash of tequila to the cocktail for a margarita-inspired twist or use rum instead of gin for a daiquiri-inspired variation.
If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, you can make a Pegu Club Collins by adding soda water and simple syrup to the classic recipe. This will give the cocktail a refreshing fizz and a sweeter taste.