The Pegu Club
New York City-Lower West Manhattan
May 11, 2018
Up a flight of stairs in a second-floor garret overlooking West Houston Street, cocktail genius and mixology maven Audrey Saunders helms the majestic Pegu. It’s named for an actual British colonial club in Rangoon – and for the tart gin-based drink of that name is served there. In keeping with the colonial name, the room is done out on vaguely Asian lines, with light wood floors, bamboo blinds and low wood tables. Couples and groups recline on sumptuous brown velvet couches or fill the bar area to capacity.
Drinks include the aforementioned Pegu as well as the famed concoctions Saunders created at Bemelman’s Bar in the Carlyle, such as the Gin Gin Mule and The Old Cuban. Or impress a date with the Champagne Apricato, which is topped with a purple orchid. Spicy, Asian-inspired snacks are perfect for grazing on as you make your way through the cocktail list, and plates like coconut shrimp or smoked trout deviled eggs have been designed to pair nicely with the drinks.
There’s a focus on the small touches, such as freshly squeezed juices; housemade infusions, tinctures, flavoured syrups and ginger beer; cocktail condiments on every table and the use of nice big ice cubes. All these little added extras show that masters are at work here. No surprise, then, that the Pegu has become something of a Mecca for cocktail connoisseurs. Saunders runs Pegu with Flatiron Lounge owner and friend Julie Reiner, and they consider themselves the “gatekeepers” of classic cocktail culture. Together they pretty much rule the cocktail roost in cocktail city.
What their peers say
“Audrey Saunders changed the way New Yorkers drink and trained the next generation of innovators in the process. Her Southeast Asian inspired gin palace is still one of the most chic places in New York to sip perfectly balanced cocktails and nibble on bar bites.” Jim Meehan of PDT, New York
“Upstairs at the corner of West Houston (pronounced HOW-stun) and West Broadway, Audrey Saunder’s bar serves some of the best drinks in the world no matter which bartender makes them as every bartender is meticulously trained to produce the drinks on her list. They are also remarkable bartenders on their own so it’s occasionally fun to request one of their original off-menu creations. It has been variously cited for best drinks, best drink’s list, best lighting by various reviewers, but the bar top itself is also worth noticing: it, and the tables, are all cut from the same maple tree. If you look closely, you can see where it was tapped years ago for maple syrup. On weekends a barrier goes up in the bar to keep the standing crowd from spilling into people seated at tables.” Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown of Mixellany Ltd.
“Meticulous and approachably complex libations and rockin’ bar bites come to life at Audrey Saunder’s groundbreaking Burmese influenced den of deliciousness.” Ryan Magarian
Main photo credit: http://nymag.com