The Pegu Club Cocktail

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The Pegu Club cocktail is an alcoholic mixed beverage based on gin created at the Pegu Club from Burma; the popular bar, which was located in Rangoon (or Yangon), the former capital of Burma (today Myanmar) was a favorite location for foreigners especially. As a former British colony, Burma was filled with British offices and officials, and most of them preferred frequenting this club.

As far as we know, the Pegu Club cocktail was invented sometime during the 1920, and Harry MacElhone’s book, Barflies and Cocktails, mentions the recipe in the 1927 edition. In this sense, the original recipe of the Pegu Club is a perfect representation of both British and Burmese cultures, combining the most popular alcoholic drink at the time, gin, with the exotic flavors of this Asian country. Due to the wide spread of the British Empire, the cocktail traveled around the world, which is why it has suffered so many modifications along the way.

One of the main reasons for the appearance of variations on the Pegu Club cocktail was the establishment of a Pegu Club in New York City, a bar known for its attention to detail and numerous original recipes. A popular recipe also featured in Harry Craddock’s book from 1930, Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930. The name of the cocktail is given by an important river from former Burma, which wears the same name, Pegu.

The Pegu Club cocktail is considered a summer cocktail, so it is served in a chilled glass. Although most recipes prepare it with lime, the resulting taste is a bit reminiscent of grapefruit, which is why certain bartenders garnish it with a slice of grapefruit. Here is one of the most popular recipes and how you can prepare it:

  • 1 1/2 ounces of gin, preferably London Dry
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 3/4 ounces orange cointreau
  • dash orange bitters
  • dash bitters

All the ingredients are shaken together in a mixer filled with crushed ice, and then strained into a chilled glass. The preferred type of glass is cocktail glass, and the usual garnish is a slice of lime. In Myanmar, this cocktail is no longer very popular, except maybe a variation which is now known as Jane’s Pegu cocktail.

If you can’t find all these ingredients, you can always try some of the variations, which are usually just as delicious; for example, a type of gin that works well is the Genever, and another ingredient is curacao, especially from Grand Marnier.

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