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The Pegu Club: A visit with the Libation Goddess

Audrey Saunders, that is, cocktailian extraordinaire, until late 2004 bar manager at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, and since spring of 2005 the proprietor of her own joint, the forthcoming Pegu Club. That bar will be worth a trip to NYC alone! [UPDATE: And as of December 2009 the co-owner of the wonderful bar and supper club in Hollywood called The Tar Pit as well!]

I don’t subscribe to Food and Wine magazine, so occasionally I miss out on some good stuff, including a nice, long article about Audrey and her mixological adventures in preparing to open the Pegu Club. For one thing, at that bar there’ll be … no vodka! Hooray! (Well, they’ll have a little, but it’ll be hidden under the bar, out of sight.) There’ll be 23 different brands of gin, and cocktails on the menu that she’s dug out of Charles Baker’s The Gentleman’s Companion: Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Glass. I may swoon.

For our cocktail of the day, let’s revisit the namesake cocktail of Audrey’s wonderful new bar, a favorite of Wes’ and mine. It’s wonderful.

The Pegu Club

2 ounces London dry gin.
1 ounce orange Curaçao.
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
1 dash orange bitters.

Stir with ice and strain.

Have these at home, and if you can find a bartender near you who knows how to make one of these (and actually has orange bitters), you’re a lucky individual indeed.

The Footloose Cocktail

UPDATED in April 2012

ORIGINAL ARTICLE from 2000: Wesly and I have grown fond of many “classic” (i.e., more commonly quaffed by sophisticated cocktail drinkers 60+ years ago) cocktails, one of which is the Fancy-Free, consisting of 2 ounces of Bourbon, 1/2 ounce of Maraschino and a dash each of Angostura and orange bitters. Wes, who seemed to be itching to create something new, decided that he was going to concoct a cocktail called … the “Footloose”. In an ideal world, once this cocktail has been unleashed, one could theoretically walk into a bar and say, “My friend here will have a Footloose, and I’d be delighted with a Fancy-Free.” (Sadly, this world has yet to come into existence.)

Regarding his Top Sekrit Cocktail Project, I got mysterious updates all week as he tweaked unnamed ingredients and their relative proportions. I was finally presented with one last Friday. Initial impression … pretty! Pink not unlike a Cosmopolitan, but slightly opaque and with a lovely green twist of lime floating in it — a nice change from the usual lemon. The aroma was familiar yet unfamiliar, with a bouquet of fruit that I couldn’t quite place. I sipped it, and the familiar-yet-unfamiliar sensation intensified. It’s a yummy drink, but I just couldn’t place the ingredients. It was fruity without being cloyingly sweet, and with a nice bite to it (or, as my friend Jordan said, “Oh, like Paul Lynde.” Heh. I was tempted to ask Wesly to call it the “Uncle Arthur” after that). The contrasting color of the lime twist made for a beautiful garnish too.

He finally let me in on the ingredients. They combined together so well that I might never have guessed. I found it to be very different and quite nice. Try one sometime. We often refer to it as our “Cosmo Killer.”

The Footloose Cocktail
(Original recipe created by Wesly Moore, 2000)

2 ounces Stolichnaya Razberi raspberry-infused vodka
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice (NOT Rose’s!)
2 big dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a long twist of lime.

2012 update: Despite the fact that after 12 years we still can’t walk into a bar and ask for a Footloose and a Fancy-Free (or most of the time even a Fancy-Free, for that matter, unless it’s a really good bar who know their history), the Footloose has done rather well for itself. Gary Regan was kind enough to include it it The Joy of Mixology (it helped that he really liked it, so yay!), and it has been out there a bit.

Wesly is still proud of his first original cocktail, as he should be, but these days he’s wont to point out that it’s not the kind of drink that he’d make anymore. Many if not most of us had our flavored vodka period a dozen or so years ago and we’re long past that; Wesly is as well. (This is not to mention our infused vodka period, although I must say that apple-infused vodka I used to make was pretty good. But I digress.)

We weren’t ready to completely give up on the good ol’ Footloose, though. Fortunately, last year a new product came on the market which made us think the old girl was ripe for reintroduction. Nolet’s Silver Gin, produced by the same family that makes Ketel One vodka in the Netherlands, decided to make a “London-style” gin, although Nolet’s gin is decidedly not a London dry. It does contain juniper and licorice and some of the other typical gin botanicals, but Nolet’s decided to go fruity and floral with their gin. The primary flavor is raspberry, plus peach and Turkish rose. It’s a weird gin — I almost hesitate to call it a gin at all; this is most certainly not a Martini gin — but I like it; it’s a really good spirit. As soon as I tasted that raspberry-forward flavor profile, I knew what cocktail I wanted to try it in first.

Unsurprisingly, it works beautifully in a Footloose. There’s enough raspberry flavor to make that magical familiar-yet-new fruitiness with the Cointreau, lime and bitters, but the other botanicals give it a depth and sophistication you would never get from using a raspberry-flavored vodka. This cocktail is now officially rewritten as seen below, although in honor of the original (and its publication history!) we’re appending a numeral to the name. Oh, we’ve cut down on the Cointreau as well, given that our palates prefer less sweet cocktails these days. Feel free to use the original proportion if you prefer your drinks that way, or if your limes are particularly tart. (For us, the tarter the better, though!)

Footloose No. 2

2 ounces Nolet’s Silver Gin
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2 big dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Combine with ice in a shaker and shake for 10-12 seconds until chilled. Double-strain into a chiilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime peel.

 

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