meet the Pegu


Another favorite cocktail which has been making an appearance around here is the Pegu. Even though it seems to be well known in cocktail-lover’s circles, we have yet to find a bartender who knows how to make one…so we make them ourselves, of course. We’ve gone through several variations, and they’re all extremely nice.

lime zest

This is a truly old drink recipe, going back to the original Pegu Club officer’s bar in Rangoon in the 1920’s. The recipe was first written down by Harry McElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in 1927. So this is seriously classic stuff. It’s an ideal warm-weather drink, with a misleadingly light, refreshing citrus flavor. But remember, it’s mostly booze, and it packs a bit of a wallop. Sip carefully.


The recipe in Mr. Boston calls for orange curaçao, which we replace with Cointreau. I do not recommend using blue curaçao, unless you like greenish-blue drinks. The delicate coral color of this cocktail is a major part of its charm. I think it looks particularly striking with a strip of lime zest, but I hear that grapefruit zest is sometimes a nice option.


Flavorwise, this is primarily a gin drink, tinged with orange. The lime juice is more of a suggestion than a main ingredient, and the bitters take it a little further away from being too sweet. I like it with a bit less orange liqueur than called for. We’re hoping to try this with orange bitters as soon as we get our hands on some (the bitters are split evenly between orange and angostura in the original recipe); in the meantime just angostura bitters have been working fine.


adapted from the Mr. Boston Offical Bartender’s Guide

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 tsp lime juice (we used the juice of one lime for two drinks, but your lime juice mileage may vary)
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters

Shake well with plenty of ice. Strain into a clear cocktail glass and garnish with a strip of lime zest. Sip slowly on a shady patio on a hot day.

2 thoughts on “meet the Pegu

  1. Oh my I know this drink has to be good with Cointreau and Angostura bitters in it. Did you know that you can also use Angostura bitters in Fruit Punch and to cut the “gameyness” out of red meats? It works wonders. Thanks for the recipe. Cheers!

  2. Might I suggest Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao Ancienne Méthode instead of Cointreau (good as I’m sure this drink is with this)? It is a far cry from the IMHO semi-chemical goop mainstream curaçaos, and is a beautiful and (I hope!) natural amber color, to boot.

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