Pegu Club Cocktail

Pegu Club Cocktail

Like many classic gin cocktails, the Pegu Club Cocktail has its origins in the British Colonial Empire. The cocktail was named after the original Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma – part of the British Empire during Victorian times and now, independent present-day Myanmar. The Pegu Club was a gentleman’s club that catered to the senior British military officers stationed there. The Prince of Wales and George Orwell both dined there. The British writer Rudyard Kipling stopped in on his brief visit to Rangoon and observed that…

“The Pegu Club seemed to be full of men on their way up or down, and the conversation was but an echo of the murmur of conquest far away to the north.”1

To me, this makes it sound like some backwater of the Empire, with officers biding their time before moving on to greater colonial glories in India.

During World War II, the Japanese took control of Rangoon and the Pegu Club, ending the British Empire’s presence there. Its legend lives on today through its signature drink – the Pegu Club cocktail, a refreshing combination of gin, Orange Curaçao, fresh lime juice and bitters. 

The Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma

The Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma – home of the Pegu Club Cocktail

The Pegu Club Cocktail

Pegu Club Cocktail calls for a London Dry-style gin, such as Gordon’s, Tanqueray or Bombay.  The London Dry is the style most familiar to American gin drinkers. It has the classic juniper and citrus taste that we associate with gin. As the name implies, it is very dry and light. Curaçao is a liqueur made from the fragrant peel of the laraha fruit, which was cultivated from the Valencia orange on the Southern Caribbean island of Curaçao. It is naturally clear, but color is added – blue for Blue Curaçao or orange for Orange Curaçao. You’ll see it often in tiki drinks, such as the Kamikaze or the Mai Tai.

Pegu Club Cocktail - gin, bitters and Orange Curaçao

Pegu Club Cocktail – gin, bitters and Orange Curaçao

Pegu Club Cocktail

2 oz London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Orange Curaçao (you can substitute with Cointreau)
1/2 oz lime juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange or grapefruit twist.

1 Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea, and Other Travel Sketches, Letters of Travel (1899)

Gilroy Cocktail – a perfect drink for the holidays

Gilroy Cocktail

The holidays approach and it’s time to bring out the festive and the beautiful cocktails. First up is he Gilroy Cocktail. It is one of those delicious and pretty cocktails that everyone at the party enjoys. The Gilroy Cocktail has one ingredient that gives it a deep ruby color and it’s signature cherry flavor – Cherry Heering.

Cherry Heering

Similar to cherry brandy, Cherry Heering is a sweet, spicy Danish liqueur. It is made from crushed cherries and spices that are mixed with a neutral alcohol and aged in casks for five years. Distilled since 1818, It has a dark cherry color and flavor that adds a lot of depth to a cocktail. You’ll see Cherry Heering in the classic cocktail recipes, such as the Singapore Sling and the Blood and Sand.

Gilroy Cocktail Ingredients - Cherry Heering, Gin and Dry Vermouth

Gilroy Cocktail Ingredients – Cherry Heering, Gin and Dry Vermouth

Gilroy Cocktail

1 oz gin
1 oz Cherry Heering liqueur
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz lemon juice (fresh, of course)
Shake with ice and pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Halloween Cocktail – The Corpse Reviver No. 2

Halloween Cocktail - Corpse Reviver No.2

The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is the perfect Halloween cocktail. Or maybe, like it’s original intent, it is the perfect AFTER-Halloween cocktail, when you need a bit of “the hair of the dog” to revive you. In fact, it used to be served as a “breakfast cocktail” to cure you after a night of debauchery.

Even though I said that I was putting my gin away until warm weather returns, this gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and absinthe cocktail is really delicious AND has the creepy name to commemorate either Hallow’s Eve or The Day of the Dead.

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Blackberry Thyme bramble cocktail

Blackberry Thyme Bramble cocktail

As I mentioned earlier this week, we’re in the beginning of blackberry season here in Georgia. We’re picking blackberries every few days and we’ve got a few big containers filled with them right now. When I have this many berries sitting in my fridge, it’s too tempting to grab a sweet handful to nibble on or put in bowl with some yogurt. I’m also tempted to toss them into a tall glass and add some thyme, lemon and gin for a summer cocktail –  Blackberry Thyme Bramble Cocktail.

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Basil Tom Collins Cocktail – a low-cal summer cocktail

Basil Tom Collins cocktail

Getting dressed for the pool last weekend convinced me that it was time to go back on a diet. What a drag. When I’m watching my weight, giving up alcohol is one of the first things I have to do. It’s not like I drink a lot, but I have to watch the weekly alcohol consumption that tends to creep up – the extra glass of wine with dinner, the beer with my slice of pizza. It’s easier just to ignore alcohol and switch to unsweetened ice tea or water for most of the week. But, after being “good” all week, I want to have my Friday cocktail treat. In order to not go too far off the rails on Fridays, I switch to light, skinny cocktails. One of my favorite low-calorie drinks is the Basil Tom Collins cocktail. 

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Monkey Gland Cocktail – Prohibition-era drink

Monkey Gland Cocktail

The Monkey Gland cocktail wins the prize for the oddest name and the most interesting origin. According to Ted Haigh’s go-to guide, Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, the drink came from the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920’s, which was the host to famous American ex-pats such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Invented by bar owner Harry McElhane, the drink was named after the questionable medical practices of a Russian quack named Serge Voronoff. In Paris during the 1920’s, Voronoff performed implants of monkey testicles into …um…shall we say… well…the corresponding part on a human male. This was supposed to rev up the sex drive. It was very popular with Parisian cafe society.

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Aviation Cocktail – Great Gatsby-Inspired Friday

The Aviation Cocktail

With the opening this weekend of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Great Gatsby’ remake, it seems appropriate to serve up a Prohibition-era cocktail that is visually dazzling – The Aviation Cocktail. This jewel-toned cocktail is made of gin, fresh lemon juice, maraschino liqueur and créme de violette.

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Gin Tasting for my Book Club crowd

Here in Decatur, we are a social bunch. My girlfriends and I often get together to share a cocktail or two. Like me, they are pretty adventurous with food and drink so they’re usually up for trying any new cocktail that I throw at them. It’s probably why I love them so much. Months ago, I was out with a few of these friends and we were lamenting the decline of our latest book club. It turns out, that one of the women at the table had a book club that gradually turned into a food and cocktail club. They had just met for a gin tasting. She told us that she had learned a lot about gin and that it had been a lot of fun. We all thought that this sounded like a brilliant twist on our usual neighborhood mom get-togethers. Since I’m Miss Cocktail, it was decided that I needed to be the one to host it.

Feeling the weight of responsibility, I began my research into gin. I found out right away that there were five distinctive styles of gin: London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, Dutch or Genever and New American or Western style.

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The Income Tax Cocktail

Sorry to be a party pooper, but it’s April 12th and that means that it’s the last weekend for you to work on your tax returns. So, to either get you in the right frame of mind for going through that shoebox of receipts OR to celebrate the fact that you sent in your 1040 forms two weeks ago, there is a very special cocktail for you today – The Income Tax Cocktail.

I found this vintage cocktail from the 1920’s in a great cocktail book, Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haugh (aka Dr. Cocktail). The Income Tax Cocktail is basically a Bronx Cocktail with the addition of Angostura bitters. I can’t find any reference to why this cocktail was named for such an unpleasant subject, but I’m guessing the addition of the bitters was a one-fingered salute to the IRS.

The Income Tax Cocktail

1 ½ oz gin (I use Plymouth gin)
¼ oz dry vermouth
¼ oz sweet vermouth
1 oz of fresh squeezed orange juice
2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist

Happy filing! Cheers!


Casino Cocktail

The Casino Cocktail is a pre-Prohibition-era gin cocktail. The recipe can be found in the classic The Savoy Cocktail Book, originally published in 1930. It is a light, dry, gin-forward cocktail served with a lovely cherry garnish. One note about the garnish… I have used fresh, pitted Bing cherries when they are in season, but you can also use any preserved cherries. I don’t particularly care for the neon-red Maraschino cherries that you use to top an ice cream sundae, but you can also opt for the high-end Maraschino cherries from Luxardo. At $20 a jar, I’m not sure they are worth it. But, maybe you think it’s worth a splurge. I know people who soak their own cherries in brandy. You can do this with dried cherries if fresh aren’t in season. That seems like a a great alternative to me. Homemade is always best!

The Casino Cocktail

2 oz gin (Plymouth)
2 dashes orange bitters (Fee Brothers)
1/8 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
1/8 oz fresh lemon juice
a fresh cherry, pitted

Stir all the ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a skewered cherry and serve.

Happy Friday! Cheers!