Better Know a Classic: Pegu Club

Pegu Club

2 oz Gin [Bully Boy]
3/4 oz Grand Marnier (Cointreau works too)
4 lime wedges (~1/2-3/4 oz lime juice)
Few dashes Angostura Bitters

Put lime wedges, Grand Marnier and bitters in a mixing glass.  Muddle to combine.  Add gin and ice.  Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lime twist.

Recipe taken from The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to inspire people to make cocktails at home.  To some, it can be a daunting task.  All those recipes and bottles can be overwhelming, then you just end up reaching for a beer.  So I’m always trying to think of ways to help ease people in the door.  For the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about how you can make a surprising number of drinks with two base spirits and four other bottles (plus some bitters and juices).  You’d be surprised how many classics and originals you can make with just bourbon, gin, orange liqueur, maraschino liqueur, Aperol, and sweet and dry vermouth (since it’s my blog and I make the rules, I’m counting the vermouths as one bottle).  Those six bottles should run you a grand total of about $100, depending on which brands you buy.  Not bad for a starter kit.

To start things off, we’ll focus on gin and orange liqueur.  When I say gin, london dry is the obvious choice.  Its classic juniper and citrus notes work wonders in a cocktail.  However, there are so many amazing local gins out there, all putting their own twist on the classic style.  I highly recommend seeking some out and finding your favorite.  When all else fails though, Boodles is a classic example of a london dry that can be had for less than $20.

Orange liqueur is sort of an umbrella category, as it pertains to both curaçao style and triple sec style liqueurs.  The two most famous are probably Grand Marnier (curaçao style) and Cointreau (triple sec). Serious Eats does a nice deep dive into orange liqueurs, and is well worth the read.  The tl;dr version is curaçao tends to be slightly sweeter, with triple sec being on the drier side.  In cocktials, however, the difference is often negligible.  So again, the “go with what you like/have” rule applies.  Both bottles are in the $30-35 range.

With all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the Pegu Club.  Originally created in the, you guessed it, Pegu Club just outside Rangoon, Burma.  It was particularly popular amongst prominent British businessman, as well as military and government officials stationed there. This is a mighty flavorful drink for just having basically three ingredients.  Very citrus forward, and although that citrus is limes, some sort of fruit and boozed based alchemy happens and there are strong notes of grapefruit throughout the drink.  Gin provides a a floral backbone and some faint spices percolate through from the bitters.


Muddling the limes is an interesting step.  It brings more of the oils from the peels into play as opposed to simply juicing them.  The juice yield may be a little tougher to gauge, but in the end it’s totally worth it.


Just as I was getting into making cocktails at home, I pulled this drink out of Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail.  I distinctly remember really feeling like I was making a “cocktail”.  Probably because I had never seen in it on a menu before, and all the flavors were so bright.  Admittedly, with all the other bottles in my bar these days, this one gets lost in the shuffle.  That’s my bad.  This is a drink that needs to get back in the rotation STAT, especially on hot summer days.


Stay tuned in the next few weeks as we build out your bar and increase your arsenal of drinks. Before you know it, you’ll be impressing your friends and family with a full compliment of proper cocktails.  Cheers!

2 thoughts on “Better Know a Classic: Pegu Club

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