Author: Doug Winship

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

Who Drinks Pegus?

Pegus are, obviously, not mainstream cocktails, now are they? So, how do you know if Pegus "are right for you"? (To quote every pharmaceutical ad running today) I'm not talking about whether you like them or not, of course. The correct way to determine that is to mix one up, in the privacy of your own home, and drink it. In fact, I suggest you do that now. I'll wait.
But, But... it's ten-thirty in the morning!
If you won't drink in the morning, why are you reading about cocktails in the morning?
Ok, we'll stipulate this: That you will try it this evening, and that you will like the taste. That's not the point of this post. This is more about whether you are the kind of person who would order a Pegu in public, in front of friends or strangers. I think that what goes into this decision depends on your chromosomal configuration. Let's start with guys. Start drinking a Pegu in front of guy friends for the first time, and you'll inevitably hear,
Nice pink drink you got there, Sally!
Exactly. Now, assuming that your standard response does not consist of the simple expedient of a punch in the nose for Andrew Dice Clay here, you are left with two basic responses. You can argue that your cocktail is not pink. This often fails to work, since Pegus, while not actually pink, are awfully damn pinkish. Or you can laugh, suggesting contemptuously that you, unlike some people in the room, are quite secure in your masculinity. If you can't carry off either of these, drink your Pegus at home. Don't worry, they'll still taste just as good.
I still say pink drinks are for chicks!
Are you still here?
Yup! Got something to say about it?
Good. At least someone is reading this thing. And you have a good point, "pink drinks are for chicks." But, as I said, Pegus aren't pink. And Pegus are not for Chicks. Pegus are for Broads.
So now I have a female reader, too. What happened to the no pink drinks guy?
I sent him to do the dishes. I'll handle this. Now, I thought you wanted to promote Pegus. Why would you turn a whole bunch of women off to them by saying that drinking them makes her a Broad?
I do, and I wouldn't, even though I do. Got that? I do want you to drink Pegus, I don't want to turn you off, but I do think most women who drink Pegus are Broads. To call a woman a Broad is a great compliment, in my eyes.
Broad is demeaning!
Oh really? Says who? Wikipedia? The worst the site can say about Broad is that it may be considered derogatory, and it may imply promiscuity. This tells us nothing. Most of Ohio thinks the term Michigander is derogatory. Most FARKers think Duke is derogatory (or they pretend to if they want their submissions greenlit.) And Broad does not imply promiscuity. Are some Broads promiscuous? Sure. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) Do some guys use Broad to mean a promiscuous female? Of course, but most of these paleothugs use every word for woman to imply promiscuity.
So if Broad isn't meant to demean, why use it?
Because it is a great word, with a rich and useful meaning, and for which there is no easy synonym. Throwing out great words because some professional grievance merchant needs something to complain about this week is a crime against the language. The best way to tell if men are using a word in a pejorative sense or not is to examine the modifying words they use as accompaniments. The most common modifier for Chick is: Hot. To call a woman a hot chick is objectifying, or at least has a strong sexual component. The most common way you hear Broad used is with Great, as in What a great Broad! The speaker is implying strong approval of the woman's personality. A Broad is a woman who is quite secure in her femininity, yet is at ease with, and enjoys the company of, men in whom she may have no romantic or physical interest. And most men are able to deal with her on equivalent terms. She deals with women like a woman, and with men like a man. Broads say and do some things like a man, and some like a woman. But not always the same things. Broads are individualists who have a much lower than normal concern for looking girlish or feminine to others. Broads know that they are feminine, dammit, and don't need to prove it to anyone, unless she wants to. Most people who use the word Broad are older, and most women whom they are talking about are older as well. But any aged woman can be a broad. As I was trolling the Web, looking for Pegu references, I ran across this blogpost on MySpace. The girl is only 24 years old, and her homepage plays Christina Aguilera and the background consists of male underwear models. But she is definitely a Broad. She goes to Vegas to gamble and party. She is willing to model her behavior after old men, and admit it publicly. She likes to shop at Home Depot. Yet she revels in getting free sh*t for being a girl. And she posts the (correct) recipe for Pegus as an example of manly drinks for women. See? A Broad.
So, are Broads hot?
Done with the dishes, huh? Broads are not necessarily hot. But to a lot of men, myself included, being a Broad makes a woman more attractive than she would otherwise be. To other men, Broads are a turn-off. Your mileage may vary.
Thanks for doing the dishes, but I'm still talking here. None of this addresses why Broads would like Pegus.
Yeah, this post has really gone off the rails, hasn't it? I'll try to get back on topic. I'm not saying Broads like Pegus—everyone has their own tastes. I'm saying that a Broad is more likely to try one than a Chick, for instance. And if a Broad discovers that she likes Pegus, she will drink them in front of others who know what a Pegu is. Pegus aren't sweet, and they aren't pretty. They are not conducive to giggling. They pack a wallop, and taste like it. In short, they are not girlish. Chick Drinks like White Zinfandel, the Pina Colada, and even the common Cosmo are closer spiritually to Coca-Cola than they are Pegus. Of course, a Broad might drink one of these chick drinks, if her tastes go that way. But I hope not, because I usually like Broads, and Friends Don't Let Friends Drink White Zinfandel!abc

Pegu Books: The Savoy Cocktail Book

I love to collect cocktail books. I especially love the ones lavishly illustrated with beautifully composed and/or photoshopped pictures, and replete with pithy quotes from drunks and drinkers of yore. The Savoy cocktail book has none of this, yet I think it is a must have for any serious collector of bar books. Of course, as I go looking for the link on the right, I see it is out of print again. Sigh. It's still worth finding for the serious aficionado. The book was written by Harry Craddock, the genuinely legendary Head Barman of the American Bar at the Savoy in London during the height of Prohibition in the US, and well after. I have heard that this book is, if not the first cocktail reference book, then at least the one that made the genre mainstream. There were cars before the Model T, and small computers before the Apple II, but this book can arguably hold the same status in its industry. My edition, from 1999, consists almost entirely of that appears to be the original typesetting from the 1930 edition, with a forward and supplemental recipes from Peter Dorelli in more modern type. There are crude but sometimes attractive pen and ink illustrations, the text is dense, erratic, and archaic, and like all good bibles, it has one of those nice integrated ribbon bookmarks to mark what page has the Pegu recipe. I love it for an historical look back at what cocktails used to look like. For instance, the recipes for a Dry Martini and a Dry Manhattan use so much Vermouth that if you duplicated them today, angry Belgians would appear within hours and drag you off to the Hague to answer from Crimes Against Humanity. Whenever I peruse this book, I am inspired to try something new, but seldom something directly from this book! Aside from its unhealthy love for Vermouth, Martin Doudoroff of CocktailDB pointed out another problem with the recipes when put to practical use. In some places, Craddock uses ratios; sometimes he uses exact measures. Sometimes he uses units of measure such as a "wine glass"! To me, it is like trying to make biscuits from someone else's grandmother's recipe. It probably has lines like, "add flour until the consistency is good", or "Bake in a hot oven until done." Alton Brown, of The Food Network's Good Eats, has an episode about a deceased ancestor's secret yellow cake recipe which discusses how to deal with this sort of issue. Me, I just look around in my modern day books for drinks with the same name and use whichever looks best to me. A few of the illustrations are pretty funny, and just when your brain starts to fog over from a long list of ingredient-only drink recipes, you hit a nugget like this one:
Mr. Eric Sutton's Gin Blind Cocktail*: 6 Parts Gin. 3 Parts Curaçao. 2 Parts Brandy. 1 Dash Orange Bitters. * Invented by THE Mr. Sutton. Chelsea Papers please copy. This is a very troublesome form of refreshment.
I can imagine 20 stories to explain this little collection of verbiage, but which, if any, is correct eludes me. At some point, I'll make one of these and drunken inspiration may give me the
General Cocktails

On Garnish

I was looking around the other cocktail sites on the web and came across a neat post on Cocktailnerd. He's doing a cool party for a charity auction. I offer a few of my murder mystery parties a year as fodder for charity auctions, so its nice to see others do the same! One of the elements of his post that caught my eye (aside from a lamentably low rating in his cocktail comparison for Pegus!), was his discussion of garnishes for his event. Now, I'm not a big garnisher for everyday cocktails just between Maggi and me. It is more because I hate doing inventory management on fruit, than any dislike for garnishes, however. But when we have guests over for drinks, I usually try to have something for garnishes—A host must have standards, after all.
SAFETY WARNING! Do all your garnish cutting and carving before the drinking begins! Don't worry about not having enough garnish to last the evening. If you do run out of rim art, your guests will be lubricated past caring... or even seeing... that something's missing!
That said, Cocktailnerd's post got me to thinking about how I garnish Pegus, how they should be garnished, and how others have garnished them for me. I prefer a big lime wheel, perched on the rim; it's simple, elegant, and easy. I'm not sure what I'd do for a fancy garnish, should the occasion demand. Right now, I'm thinking a lime wedge on a skewer, with a long strip of peel tangled around the whole thing. I'll have to try it to see if it works. The way most bartenders garnish it, unless they ask me first, is with a squeeze; dropping the wedge into the drink after squeezing it in. I hate this. If you used the right amount of lime juice to begin with, the squeeze is unnecessary. And the pulped wedge looks untidy in the bottom of the glass. Bartenders: use a squeeze in drinks where the juice from the squeeze is all the juice needed! Anyone got a better idea?abc
@DAWInship on Instagram