The Pegu Club is a delicious Gin Sour, the house drink of Rangoon’s colonial-era Pegu Club. The generic formula for a sour is Spirit + Sour + Sweet = Delicious; in this case it’s Gin + Lime + Cointreau, with some bitters to add depth. The Pegu Club’s bartenders produced a truly fantastic cocktail that has stood the test of time. After being popularized in Burma (now Myanmar), the Pegu Club’s reputation spread far. Harry McElhone, of the American Bar in Paris, included it in his Cocktails and Barflies and the Savoy Cocktail Book featured it as well.
The Pegu Club’s History
The Club was an institution. British Imperial officials and other Causasians would enjoy a cold gin at the Pegu Club, after long hot days furthering the Empire. Kipling refers to the Club in his visit to Rangoon as a young journalist in 1899 (“Try the mutton,” he was told. “I assure you the Pegu Club is the only place in Rangoon where you get mutton.”) Burmese Days, Orwell’s first novel, describes his five years in the local police force in the 20’s. He name drops the club as he skewers the colonial racism of the day (“Natives are getting into all the Clubs nowadays. Even the Pegu Club, I’m told. Way this country’s going, you know.”)
When Burma fell in WWII, the Japanese used the club as a military brothel (“Comfort Station”), and eventually, the government of socialist Myanmar took it over as office of taxation. A local consortium is now restoring it and has some rooms for rent as an event spaces. You can see some great pictures and read more about the history here. Inspired by the name, New York’s Pegu Club bar opened in 2005, a highlight of our current cocktail renaissance.
The Pegu Club Cocktail
I’ve been making Pegu Clubs for years – delicious, refreshing, slightly exotic, and easy (unlike say a Mai Tai or Singapore sling, which are delicious, refreshing, exotic and have too many ingredients to count as easy).
Pegu Club Cocktail
- 1.5 oz Gin
- 0.5 oz Cointreau
- 0.75 oz Lime Juice
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 1 dash Orange Bitters
- Add ingredients to ice filled shaker
- Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass
- Serve up