Straits Sling

Can I just say, I have zero idea what the Raffles, Singapore, or Straits Sling have to do with the earlier beverage of the same name, aka the garnished toddy.

And as far as I can tell, no one else has much idea, either, even when they were popping up, seemingly around the early portion of the 20th Century.

In fact, I’d argue for a separate name for these tall, tropical-ish, pink beverages. How about “Colonial Slings”?

Straits Sling
(for 6)
Place in a shaker 4 glasses of Gin, 1 glass of Benedictine, 1 glass of Cherry Brandy, the Juice of 2 Lemons, a teaspoonful of Angostura Bitters, and one of Orange Bitters.
Shake sufficiently and serve in large glasses, filling up with Soda water.

So, I thought it would be interesting to look at a couple recipes for these “Colonial Slings”.

Trader Vic, in the 1948 edition of his “Bartender’s Guide” includes Slings in a section with Sangarees. About the grouping, he says:

Sangarees are tall drinks, made like Old-Fashioneds but without bitters, and are usually topped with a dash of nutmeg. Slings, on the other hand, in their simpler versions, are pointed up with bitters or a similar type of flavoring and resemble elongated Old-Fashioneds with the addition of a little lemon. With the exception of the Singapore Slings, this entire group of drinks has little merit.

Among these beverages of, “little merit,” he includes several recipes which follow the mold in his description including the Applejack Sling, the Brandy Sling, the Fancy Sling (with Brandy, benedictine, Lemon, Pernod, and Maraschino!) and finally one exotically named the Jungle Fire Sling:

Jungle Fire Sling.
1 oz Cherry Brandy
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Parfait Amour
1 oz Brandy
Stir in a 12 oz glass; fill with shaved ice, fill glass with ginger beer.

Wow, great name, but If you try that one, you might want to pre-book an appointment with the Dentist.

Of Trader Vic’s Singapore and/or Raffles Slings, there are three.

Raffles Sling
1 oz dry gin
1 oz cherry brandy
1 oz benedictine
Shake with cracked ice; strain into 12 oz glass containing several lumps of ice; fill with chilled club soda and garnish with the spiral peel of 1 green lime.

Another far too sweet one, there!

Singapore Sling–1
1 1/2 oz dry gin
1/2 oz Cherry Brandy
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 lime
1 tsp grenadine
1/4 oz sloe gin
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
Squeeze lime and drop into 12 oz glass with cracked ice; add rest of ingredients and stir well; fill rest of glass with selzer.

7 Ingredients? Thank goodness I never worked for Trader Vic!

Singapore Sling–2
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 dash benedictine
3/4 oz cherry brandy
2 oz dry gin
Stir in a 12oz glass with cracked ice; decorate with slice of orange and sprig of mint; fill with selzer and serve with straws.

Well, all I can say is, thank goodness by 1972 Trader Vic only included 1 Sling in his revised edition of the “Bartender’s Guide”. Pretty much the same as the above Singapore Sling–1, with a little tweaking of the amounts of the different ingredients. Apparently the heyday of the Sling had passed.

Singapore Sling

1 lime
1 dash grenadine
1/4 oz creme de cassis
1/2 oz sloe gin
1/2 oz cherry liqueur
1 oz gin
Club soda
Cut lime, squeeze juice over ice cubes in a 12-ounce chimney glass, and save 1 lime shell. Add remaining ingredients except soda. Fill glass with soda. Stir. Decorate with spent lime shell, orange slice, and a cherry.

Down to 6 ingredients and a not too elaborate garnish. Whew, I guess by the 1970s things had calmed down a touch. Though I still question the cluster of cherry-berry flavors. Are Sloe Gin, Cherry Liqueur, Grenadine, and Creme de Cassis all really necessary in the same drink? I also want to note that in 1972 Trader Vic has opted for the less confusing, “Cherry Liqueur,” over the somewhat ambiguous “Cherry Brandy”.

Regarding Slings and Toddies, perpetual crank David A. Embury says the following in his 1948 book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”.

The dictionaries define both Slings and Toddies as “mixtures of sweetened spirits and water.” While Slings have always been served both hot and cold, the toddy was originally a hot drink only. Today, however, Toddies, as well as Slings are served both hot and cold. Slings are usually made with lemon and either sugar or some sweet liqueur. Toddies usually contain a thin slice of lemon or a piece of lemon peel but no lemon juice. Also, they usually contain one or more spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. These differences, however, are merely incidental and, when served hot, it is difficult, if not impossible, to distiguish between a Sling and a Toddy. One distinction between the cold drinks is that a Toddy is usually made with plain water, Slings with charged water or Ginger Ale.

SINGAPORE SLING Of alll the recipes published for this drink, I have never seen any two that were alike. Essentially it is a Gin Sling with the addition of cherry brandy. The following is typical of the various recipes.

1 teaspoonful Sugar Syrup
Juice of 1/4 large Lemon or 1/2 large Lime
1 pony Cherry Brandy (Kirsch)
1 1/2 jiggers Gin
1 dash Angostura

Shake and strain into 8 oz Highball glass or use 10 oz glass and leave 1 large ice cube in the glass. Fill glass with charged water. Some recipes call for the addition of Benedictine. Also, some call for ginger ale in place of the charged water. A slice of lemon peel should be twisted over and dropped in the drink.

Some good points, there, especially the comment, “Of alll the recipes published for this drink, I have never seen any two that were alike.” Also interesting that Embury is the only one I’ve seen, up until some modern authors, to specify “Kirsch”. Well, he did like his cocktails on the dry side. Though, you will see, as is typical of recipes which forgo Cherry Liqueur for Cherry Eau-de-Vie, that the authors find themselves adding sugar syrup to a recipe which usually doesn’t contain any.

Anyway, unless I’m working at Heaven’s Dog, where we make the Slanted Door Singapore Sling as our house recipe, I always make the following Charles Baker, Jr. recipe when I have a request for Straits or Singapore Slings.

The Paramaribo Park Club Gin Sling from the Dutch Guiana Capital City of Suriname

Actually this sling was something of an improvement over the sweetish Raffles job, to your Pastor’s present-day taste. It was a trifle dryer, had a bit more lime juice than average here in the United States; and, finally the inclusion of the crushed–seeded–lime hulls in the finished drink lent added aroma and flavor as they do in Gin Rickeys.

2 oz Best Dry Gin
1 Pony Cherry Brandy (1 oz Cherry Heering)
Juice & Hulls 2 small limes (1 oz Lime Juice)
1 tsp each Cognac & Benedictine

Shake with fine ice till quite cold, strain into short highball glass, letting some of the ice go in also. Cap with chilled club soda; garnish with ripe pineapple stick &/or cherry. Personally we float-on the Benedictine-Cognac after finished drink’s poured.

A lot of times Baker gets flack for drinks that need to be significantly massaged before they are palatable. Heh, well, if there was anyone who understood the appeal of the dying embers of Colonialism, it was Charles Baker, Jr. To me this version of the “Colonial Sling” just works. Give it a try and let me know if you think so too.

Addenda: while I was chatting via email with Erik Adkins about Slings, he suggested I also send a note to exotic drink expert Martin Cate, of Smuggler’s Cove, who he said had expended a fair amount of energy researching the recipe he uses for this drink.

I did a ton of digging before putting it on my menu, and I just couldn’t find anything resembling consensus on the issue. Between Dale, Difford, Regan, etc. etc. there were a lot of opinions. I’m reasonably confident in the role of Heering & Benedictine, I’m not confident in the role of pineapple juice. Below is what I went with, though I ended up calling it a Straits Sling on my menu, but still maintain that the Sing Sling was probably pretty close.

.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.25 oz simple syrup (or to taste)
.25 oz Benedictine
.5 oz Heering
1.5 oz Plymouth
dash orange bitters
dash Angostura bitters
2 oz seltzer.

I think the double bitters was something that B&B or Rickhouse was doing that I liked.

Which brings us back to something very close to a single serving version of the Straits Sling at the beginning of this post! Sounds delicious, I believe a field trip to Smuggler’s Cove shall be in order!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling
The Juice of 1/4 Lemon,
1/4 Dry Gin.
1/2 Cherry Brandy.
Shake well and strain into medium size glass, and fill with soda water. Add 1 lump of ice.

A lot of people get hung up on the Singapore Sling.

A famous drink from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, so many people have written about it over the years, that I’m not sure there is anything to say.

The original recipe was secret and somehow lost. Eventually it was claimed found again by an ancestor of the barman who invented it, blah blah blah… Sounds like a made up story to me.

The drink the Raffles Hotel now serves after re-discovering the recipe is, reportedly, to most modern tastes, far too sweet and rather pink looking and artificial tasting.

So I think the response that people get, when they come across the Savoy recipe above is, “Uh, nope, I’m not going to make that, it sounds disgustingly sweet.” Well, right, that’s true, this does sound rather ridiculously sweet, and I’ve made it before to that exact spec, and I’m not doing it again. Tastes like vaguely medicinal fizzy cherry soda.

First off, there’s a red herring. Ahem. Or perhaps a Cherry Heering. Hoho.

Anyway, when confronted with this recipe, a lot of people grasp on to the idea of, “Cherry Brandy,” thinking perhaps that some confused editor, or author, meant to write, “Kirsch,” or “Cherry Eau-de-Vie” instead of Cherry Brandy, which is universally the cocktail recipe shorthand for Cherry Liqueur. And by subbing in Kirsch, they’ll be able to rescue the recipe from its syrupy origins.

One mixologist, in particular, Robert Vermeire, muddied the water by calling for, “Dry Cherry Brandy,” in his book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” (originally published 1922).

Straits Sling

The well-known Singapore drink, thoroughly iced and shaken, contains:

2 dashes Orange Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
The juice of half a lemon
1/8 Gill of Benedictine
1/8 Gill of Dry Cherry Brandy
1/2 Gill of Gin

Pour into a tumbler and fill up with cold soda water.

“O ho!” you say, “I have an excuse to use Kirsch in this recipe! This might not be so sweet after all!”

Well, the bad news is, lots of liqueurs are called “Dry”, which does not mean they are Eau-de-Vies. Triple SEC springs immediately to mind. In fact, speaking of Orange Liqueurs, the Bols Company, to this very day, calls their Orange Curacao, “Dry Orange Curacao,” in Europe. Oh, hm, a Dutch Liqueur Company, a recipe in Singapore at a Colonial hotel, what are the chances, Bols might have marketed its Cherry Liqueur in the past as “Dry Cherry Brandy”?

I will also add, Mr. Robert Vermeire, elsewhere in his book actually calls specifically for “Kirsch” when he means Cherry Eau-de-Vie, not “Dry Cherry Brandy”, for example, in the recipe for the “Pollchinelle or Cassis-Kirsch” in the “French Aperitifs” section of his book.

(Hat Tip to Mr. David Wondrich, for reminding me about Bols’ use of the word “Dry” in their liqueur line. You’d think I would remember, having used their Dry Orange Curacao about a million times. Duh. I believe Mr. Wondrich should have a far more well written and informative article on the subject of Slings coming out some time soon.)

And, uh, maybe you didn’t notice, but if you leave out the Cherry Liqueur entirely, this recipe has no sweetener at all, basically a Dry Gin and Kirsch highball with a dash of lemon. You give that a try and let me know what you think. I’ve have tried that version, and while perhaps nominally more appealing than the Fizzy Cherry Soda version, it’s not one of those drinks that jumps out as something that would have mass appeal, nor that I am going to make again.

Anyway, a secret recipe and a questionable reinvention means, well, it means, everyone will make up their own version.

Things that are indisputable: It has Gin, it has Citrus, and it has “Cherry Brandy”, (however you interpret that,) and it is served in a tall glass.

Erik Adkins put the Singapore Sling on the Slanted Door menu a while ago, and it has been a staple of that restaurant’s cocktail menu ever since. He based his recipe on one he got from the Rainbow Room in New York City, which, it turns out, was adapted by Dale DeGroff from something he was faxed by the Raffles Hotel.

I had some business to take care of with Jennifer Colliau, in preparation for the next Savoy Night, so I figured, what better place to stop for a Singapore Sling? I mean, aside from the Rainbow Room or Raffles Hotel.

Slanted Door Singapore Sling
1 1/2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Sling Business*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 Dash Angostura bitters

Shake and pour into a Delmonico glass. Garnish with a cherry on a lime raft.

*Sling Business is a mixture of 1/2 Cherry Heering, 1/4 Benedictine, and 1/4 Cointreau. If mixing this recipe for yourself it would be, 1/2 oz Heering, 1/4 oz Benedictine, and 1/4 oz Cointreau per drink.

Among other things that The Slanted Door might have in advantage over the Rainbow Room or Raffles Hotel, is that they are currently experimenting with using fresh squeezed pineapple juice. This not only tastes fantastic in a Singapore Sling, way better than canned, but you can also see gives the drink a great, light foam at the top.

What do I think is the right recipe?

Honestly, I don’t know. The pineapple version served by the Slanted Door is a great drink. Even at its most basic, the Singapore Sling is a Tom Collins sweetened with Cherry Heering, which isn’t really bad, as long as you take a generous hand with the citrus.

The moral of the story, if there is one? If you keep the recipe for your cocktail secret, there’s a chance that everyone will make it wrong. FOREVER. And even if the right recipe eventually turns up, some people may never believe it.

It’s hard enough for most people to make cocktail recipes the way their creators intended, even if the recipe is known.

Heck, I’m still trying to get that version of the Last Word I saw with Midori instead of Green Chartreuse out of my mind…

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Webster Cocktail

Webster Cocktail
1/8 Lime Juice. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Lime Juice)
1/8 Apricot Brandy. (1/2 oz 3/4 oz Brizard Apry)
1/4 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth)
1/2 Plymouth Gin. (3/4 oz Plymouth Gin, 3/4 oz Bols Genever)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

A favourite cocktail at the bar of the S.S. Mauretania.

Well, I kind of feel like I have been a bit hard on the Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth, so I thought, “Hey you! Blogger asshole! How about using a tart vermouth in a tart cocktail?”

With all these odd Savoy Cocktails, sours ostensibly, where you find French Vermouth in the place of what should be Lemon Juice, I have often wondered about the flavor character of historical French Vermouth. Was it tarter wine? Fresher Vermouth? Has all the industrial processing and filtering now applied to commercial vermouth changed its character?

Sutton Cellars, on the other hand, is fairly low tech. Herbs macerated in California White Wine, with a small amount of unaged Brandy and Agave Syrup.

So, is the Sutton Cellars closer to what Dry Vermouth might have tasted like in the 19th and early 20th Century?

Well, certainly, there was no Agave Syrup around 1900, and probably the spices and herbs used by Sutton Cellars are fairly distinct from European Vermouth making traditions.

My personal feeling is that much of the early French Vermouth was probably closer to what we now call Blanc or Bianco Vermouth, and that the Dry Vermouth, as featured in the modern Martini, didn’t evolve until later, in the early to mid-twentieth Century.

A puzzle for you, if Dry and Bianco/Blanc vermouth existed contemporaneously, why do no Cocktail recipes differentiate between these Vermouths? Why do most just call for “Italian” or “French”?

Anyway, I like the Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth in the Webster. Its somewhat outre spice component, especially Vanilla and Christmas-like Spices work well. These ballsy flavors lend complexity to the drink where most other dry vermouths would just be bowled over by the Gin, Apricot Brandy, and Lime.


This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Waldorf Cocktail

Waldorf Cocktail
The Juice of 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime. (Juice 1/2 Lime)
1/4 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Martin Miller’s Gin)
1/2 Swedish Punch. (1 1/2 oz Underhill Swedish Punsch)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Another cocktail, where the fractions don’t quite add up to a whole.

I guess in this case, maybe the juice from the Lemon or Lime is making up the other quarter of the drink.

Speaking of, a lot of people seem to find this sort of measure annoying, “Juice of 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime”.

It doesn’t work with their personal obsession of knowing exactly how much juice should go into a cocktail.

I think it is probably just a method indicator for the bar or bartender who authored the recipe.

That is to say, those recipes where lemon juice is measured as a portion of the fraction, were probably juicing ahead and had the juice in some sort of vessel they were pouring from. Those where citrus juice is listed as a fraction of the fruit were likely juicing to order.

The main problem with listing any absolute amount in these recipes along with fractions is that we don’t absolutely know what the total volume might have been. In a cocktail where the total volume is 2 oz or less, a teaspoon of sweetener may make sense. In a cocktail where the total volume adds up to 3 oz or more, as in most modern bar recipes, that teaspoon of sweetener is going to need to be increased.

The other main problem with citrus expressed as a fraction of the fruit is we don’t know how big the citrus might have been or how much juice might have been expressed from 1/2 of a lime. With modern citrus, I usually say a half a lemon or a whole lime is equivalent to about 3/4 oz.

However, in regards Limes, it is far more likely that what was being used, especially for Caribbean and South American Drinks, was Key Limes not modern Persian limes.

For example, I found this video of a modern Peruvian Bartender making a Pisco Sour, pretty cool. It appears that even to this day, Key Limes are used in an authentic Pisco Sour:

For those of you with no tolerance for watching video, his recipe for a Pisco Sour is as follows: Juice of 2 Key Limes; 3 oz Pisco; 1 oz Gomme Syrup; Egg White “to taste”. Shake and strain into sour glass. Garnish with a drop of bitters.

My friend Craig Hermann, over at Colonel Tiki has been doing a series about Citrus history and the appropriate varietals for cocktails. Essential reading, as far as I am concerned:

The Trouble with Orange Juice, Part I

In regards the Waldorf Cocktail, well, boy that’s a lot of Swedish Punch and only a little Citrus. In fact, this is a reverse proportion Biffy or Strike’s Off. Well, if you like Swedish Punch, this may be the drink for you. If you don’t, well perhaps the Biffy may be a better starting place.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Volstead Cocktail

Volstead Cocktail
1/4 Lime Juice. (1/2 oz Lime Juice)
3/4 Orange Juice. (1 1/2 oz Orange Juice)
1 Dash of Hercules. (Dash Campari)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Crap! I was out of my home made Hercules when this puppy rolled around.

Anyway, I believe the whole point of this cocktail is that it is non-alcoholic, except for a little bit of potable bitters, so I went with Campari instead. Quite tart!

Interestingly, Harry McElhone’s “ABC of Cocktails”, contains a cocktail with the same name and completely different ingredients: 1/3 Rye Whiskey; 1/3 Swedish Punsch; 1/6 Orange Juice; 1/6 Syrup Framboise; 1 dash of anisette Marie Brizard.

About his nominally more appealing version of the Volstead, McElhone opines:

This cocktail was invented at the Harry’s New York Bar, Paris, in honor of Mr. Andrew J. Volstead, who brought out the Dry Act in U.S.A. and was the means of sending to Europe such large numbers of Americans to quench their thirst.

Not just to Europe, but Mexico, Canada, and Cuba all had their tourism industries jump started by Prohibition and American’s thirst for the hard stuff.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Upstairs Cocktail

Upstairs Cocktail
The Juice of 1/4 Lemon. (Still out of lemons, so I used the juice 1/2 Lime)
1 glass Dubonnet. (2 oz Dubonnet Rouge)
Use medium size glass and fill with soda water.

This is actually a fairly refreshing cocktail, the added zest of the lime gives some interest. Nice for hot weather, I would say.

As I approach the “Fizz” section of the Savoy Cocktail Book, the “Soda Water” question is starting to eat away at me.

For most of the last several years, I’ve used an iSi Soda Siphon for my soda water. It works OK and is cheaper than buying bottles of Soda Water. Besides, the filtered Hetch Hetchy water I use tastes better than a lot of the rather salty stuff you get in commercial Selzer or Soda.

Some others of my friends have recommended the Soda Stream system as superior to the iSi Soda Siphon.

Maybe it is based on a youth mis-spent watching Three Stooges movies in bank basements, but I just think a Siphon is more fun to use than pouring Selzer out of a bottle with a screw on top.

What do you use for soda water in your mixed drinks?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Swizzles Cocktail

Swizzles Cocktail
The Juice of 1 Lime. (Juice 1 lime)
1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1 Glass of Gin. (2 oz Tanqueray Gin)
1 Teaspoonful of Sugar. (1 tsp Caster Sugar)
Stir with swizzle stick until it foams.

Well, that certainly is interesting!

I had thought the Swizzle was primarily the domain of Rum drinks like the Queen’s Park Swizzle, but here we have a Swizzled Rickey.

Sadly I am lacking in proper swizzle sticks, so I shall have to do this my own way…

Fill glass with ice. Pour ice from glass into blender or food processor and top up with a few more cubes. Add all ingredients except angostura bitters, and pulse until well frappeed. Pour into glass and top with dashes of Angostura Bitters. You may want to do some additional swizzling.

Oh my god! I thought blenders were the domain of rum and tequila drinks! Surely no man would contemplate a blender version of a gin rickey!

I can. I have. And it is good. Refreshing even! I dare you to try it!

Dear lord, what is next, slushy machines full of Corpse Revivers?

No, I don’t think so, but now that you mention it, this would make quite a tasty sorbet. “Hello, is this the Humphry Slocombe flavor suggestion line?”

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Quarter Deck Cocktail

Quarter Deck Cocktail

Quarter Deck Cocktail.

1 Teaspoonful of Lime Juice.
1/3 Sherry. (1 1/2 oz Bodega Dios Baco Amontillado Sherry)
2/3 Rum. (1 1/2 oz Havana Club 7 year)

Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Boy was this just awful. Something about this combination of flavors just seemed to point up the more unfortunate mud and dirt type flavors of the Havana Club rum.

Possibly a different rum would work better? Santa Theresa and Diplomatico have nice affinities to sherry.

Havana Club 7, clearly does not. At all.

EDIT: You know, I wonder, if, like the Pegu Club, this “lime juice” shouldn’t be Rose’s.  Kinda thinking that would be better.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Pegu Club Cocktail

First, I suppose I should point out that Doug, over at The Pegu Blog, writes pretty much about nothing other than Pegu Club Cocktails.  So if you need more information about the cocktail, you might want to check out his ruminations on the subject.

Searching through Google Books, I found a couple references.

From a 1971 article in the Atlantic by Paul Theroux:


“On Bogyoke Aung San Street (formerly Montgomery) the Central Jail is being pulled down. The workmen were surprised to get a visitor and willingly showed me around the six enormous cell blocks which radiate in clumsy spokes from a central courtyard and administration building. They pointed out scratchings on the cell floors made in the teak planks by bored prisoners, the Burmese equivalent of tic-tac-toe. One man told me the place was one hundred seven years old—the seven gave the date a certain credibility; in fact, I couldn’t imagine the Burmese pulling down a building less than a hundred years old. The only market in Mandalay is the Zegyo Bazaar, designed and built in 1903 by an Italian, Count Caldrari (who was also the first secretary of the Mandalay Municipality). I stole a small sign from over a cell door in the Central Jail. It reads: 56′ BY 26½’ BY 12’—CUBICAL CONTENTS 17967—ACCOMMODATION FOR 28. It is only a short hop from the Central Jail to the Pegu Club, now an Officers’ Mess of the Burmese Army. The Pegu Club was to Rangoon what the Selangor Club was to Kuala Lumpur and the Tanglin Club to Singapore (but these two are still going strong). The sentry said that he would have let me look around, but as it happened, a senior officer (the sentry bulged his eyes to illustrate how senior) had just arrived and was inside.”

Rudyard Kipling in his 1899 book, “From Sea to Sea”:

The River of the Lost Footsteps and the Golden Mystery upon its Banks. Shows how a Man may go to the Shway Dagon Pagoda and see it not and to the Pegu Club and hear too much. A Dissertation on Mixed Drinks.

“There must be a few hundred men who are fairly behind the scenes of the Burma War—one of the least known and appreciated of any of our little affairs. 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.”

Pegu Club, Savoy

Pegu Club Cocktail
1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (Angostura Orange Bitters)
1 Teaspoonful Lime Juice. (1 teaspoon Fresh Lime Juice)
1/3 Curacao. (3/4 oz Bols Dry Orange Curacao)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

The favourite cocktail of the Pegu Club, Burma,
and one that has traveled, and is asked for, round the world.

So this is the Savoy recipe for this cocktail. To me, it doesn’t make much sense, from a flavor perspective. The mere teaspoon of lime juice, does very little for the cocktail, to balance against the sweetness of the orange curacao, making it very nearly an after dinner proposition.

Pegu Club, Gimlet Style

The oldest recipe anyone has found, at the moment, is from an edition of Harry’s ABC of Cocktails from 1929.  It is as follows: 1 dash Angostura Bitters; 1 dash of Orange Bitters; 1 teaspoonful of Lime Juice (Rose’s); 1/6 Curacao; 2/3 Gin.

Ack!  Though he does slightly reduce the volume of Curacao, he calls for Rose’s Lime Juice!

Well, what are you gonna do.  The Rose’s got me thinking of Gimlets, so I gimlet-i-fied the cocktail, serving it over ice.  You know what, it’s not bad!

Pegu Club, Jimmy's

One of the other pre-Savoy citations for the Pegu Club Cocktail comes from a book I’ve only heard of in quotes from David Wondrich, “Cocktails by Jimmy, Late of Ciro’s”  Its recipe follows:

Pegu Club
4 parts Dry Gin. (2 oz Gin)
1 part Curacao. (1/2 oz Curacao)
1 part Lime Juice. (1/2 oz Lime Juice)
1 Dash Angostura Bitters per cocktail.
1 Dash Orange Bitters per cocktail. (Angostura Orange Bitters)

This is a very dry cocktail!  Though it has its fans, it is a little too dry and tart for my taste.  At this point, I have to admit I’m also thinking I don’t really like Angostura Orange Bitters in this cocktail.  I like them in Martinis and such, but there’s something in the spice component that just isn’t working for me in a sour.

Pegu Club, Slanted Door

Finally, seeking solace for my frustration, I made the version of the Pegu Club Cocktail from the Heaven’s Dog bar book.  Obviously, I’d have to kill you if I printed it here, but damn that hits the spot.  Save yourself the trouble of the above, and just go out and order the drink at Slanted Door or Heaven’s Dog.  You’ll thank me.

Oh, and if that doesn’t convince you, and you really want to do your extra credit work, I highly recommend the gimlet-i-fied version made with Oude Genever instead of Dry Gin. Not at all traditional, but super tasty!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Oriental Cocktail

Oriental Cocktail

Oriental Cocktail.
1/2 Rye Whisky. (1 1/2 oz Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey)
1/4 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth)
1/4 White Curacao. (3/4 oz Bols Dry Orange Curacao)
The Juice of 1/2 Lime.
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

In August, 1924, an American Engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines, and only the extraordinary devotion of Dr. B– saved his life.
As an act of gratitude the Engineer gave Dr. B– the recipe of this Cocktail.

To me, the Oriental Cocktail is a very modern tasting cocktail. Compared to many vintage cocktails, it has a fairly large portion of both sweet and sour, making it quite rich in flavor. If it didn’t have pesky Sweet Vermouth, it could go on just about any modern cocktail menu and be quite the crowd pleaser.

Personally, I find it a bit rich, but am never quite sure where to go with that. More Vermouth and less curacao and lime? 2 oz booze, 1/2 oz of everthing else? Certainly can think of worse ways to spend an evening than tweaking the proportions of the Oriental.

In any case, as enjoyable as the Oriental Cocktail is, I’m pretty sure Dr. B– got the better end of this deal!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.