READING

Pegu Books: Vintage Cocktails

Pegu Books: Vintage Cocktails


Margaret just found a neat little book called Vintage Cocktails at Half Price Books. A newer edition, with a blue cover, and I know not what else changed is currently in print. It is a nice sized compendium of vintage cocktails from the Twenties through the Sixties. It is laid out in that modern graphic style that harkens back to the fifties atomic cocktail era. The illustrations are an entertaining mix of vintage liquor advertisements, black and white photographs of Movie Stars and other drunks, as well as some original artwork. It is liberally sprinkled with quotes from the era. (This seems de riguer in cocktail books these days, does it not?)

The meat of the book is divided by cocktail, or sometimes groups of closely related cocktails. It starts with some history of the drink, then follows with the recipe and any variants the author wants to include, then usually closes each cocktail with a section entitled For Your Further Drinking Pleasure. This is a neat little addendum that gives some suggestions for experimenting with the drink in various ways.

The writing is clear, literate, and above all witty. In fact, I like the writing so much I found that I was not skipping over cocktails I already know and don’t like, or could dismiss as having potential based on their ingredients. In other words, it’s a good read, as well as a good excuse to try new drinks.

As you can tell from the title of the post, Vintage Cocktails does include a Pegu recipe. After reading it, Margaret asked me if I had written it without telling her. Here is the Money Quote:

…. We urge a rediscovery of this forgotten beauty, and are prepared to drink a hundred of them on the Capitol steps, if need be, to draw attention to our cause. We’ll have legions of followers in no time.

The recipe the authors, Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel, include is way too heavy on the curaçao, but a reviewer has to have some wart to point out! I hope to soon pay my own airfare to Washington and cabfare to the Capitol steps to drink Pegus with them. I’ll mix my own though….


  1. Gabriel

    3 July

    Nice post, Doug! I also ran into this book not too long ago, bought a copy, and plan on running a review in the next couple of months. I’ll be sure to link and recommend yours when I do. The graphic design and artwork is definitely the hallmark of this book.

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