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Pegu Club


Makes 1

The original Pegu Club in what was then known as Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), was not a glitzy cocktail lounge, but one of several private British officers’ clubs in the then colonised territories throughout Asia. Granted, it was still a place in which to socialize and enjoy mixed drinks, and the house cocktail was a sharp combination of gin, bitters, lime juice, and orange curacao.

The precise attribution for the recipe is lost to history, but the Pegu Club cocktail was served there since at least the early 1900s, possibly earlier, and the recipe first appeared in print in the 1927 edition of Barflies and Cocktails by Harry MacElhone. The drink gained international recognition when Harry Craddock borrowed MacElhone’s recipe for the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book and added a few “modern” tweaks, such as Rose’s lime juice. The fresh version, however, was still favoured in some establishments throughout London and elsewhere.

In 2005, Audrey Saunders opened a modern upper-floor cocktail den in New York City’s SoHo district called the Pegu Club, which featured certain design elements inspired by the original colonial nineteenth-century club, such as the ornate woodwork and Asian artwork, but was open to anyone willing to climb the stairs to quench their thirst. Among the staples that never left the menu until the bar’s closing in 2020 was Saunders’ version of the Pegu Club, which reinstated the fresh lime juice and reconfigured the other ingredients, also with the addition of orange bitters. This recipe is now considered the industry standard, and Pegu Club cocktails can still be ordered in many bars around the world.

Year: 1910s

Origin: Rangoon, Burma

Inventor: Unknown

Premises: Pegu Club

Alcohol Type: Gin
Glassware: Coupe

60 ml (2 oz) dry gin

22 ml (¾ oz) fresh lime juice

22 ml (¾ oz) orange curacao

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 dash orange bitters


Shake all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass.


Recipe extracted from the book Signature Cocktails by Amanda Schuster, published by Phaidon.

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