The Only Place worth Having a Drink in Manhattan

1 part fresh lemon juice.
2 parts Earl Grey infused Gin.
1 Raw egg white.
Shake vigorously.
Pour into chilled glass.
Garnish with a large slice of lemon peel.
Drink and be merry.

That’s how you make an Earl Grey MarTEAnini. I learned how to make it watching Kenta dance behind the bar as he methodically and artistically measured, poured, flipped and muddled. The Early Grey MarTEAnini is an amazing concoction available at Pegu, an orientalist, modern, high end yet unpretentious lounge on W. Houston near W. Broadway. Refreshing and complex, it’s a drink that you probably wouldn’t order unless someone steered you in that direction — who wants a raw egg white in their drink? But let me tell you, that drink with the raw egg white was beautiful and delicious, and I am salmonella free.

I think I found my new favorite breakfast — yes, citrus, tea and an egg all in one glass (seasoned with a bit of gin).

The beauty of the drinks at Pegu is their complexity. Each drink has been carefully thought-out, tested and tweaked until it’s exquisite enough to be a staple. They are drinks meant to be sipped and each sip is multilayered. The Cucumber-Mint Creole was our first drink of the night. The taste of muddled cucumber hits the front of your tongue, the rum grabs the middle and the finish is crisp mint. One sip, many flavours — each taste-bud goes home satisfied. The other beauty about Pegu drinks is that you get what you pay for. Because they measure, you’re never jipped on the alcohol and each drink is made with top-shelf liquor. They’re worth every penny of their $13 price tag.

Did I mention yet how awesome the bartenders are?

Kenta has been working there for 3 of Pegu’s 4 years and he flies through orders with flare and precision. Each drink is made with love and to perfection. With his vest and tie, the Japan-native looked all business. “Look at him work!” said a guy next to us at the bar. “He doesn’t even stop to chat to the girls.” But he did chat, friendly, with Sarah and I as we sipped our Earl Grey MarTEAninis — selected after his suggestion. He kept our water glasses filled and made sure we both had a bar stool to ourselves. As last call was nearing, he sent over two cold glasses of some sort of refreshing lime and mint concoction — presumably to prevent us from stumbling down the flight of stairs that lead to Houston. He typifies the type of service you get there — easy going but sophisticated, attentive but not harassing. The drinks are expensive and the staff knows it — they don’t hurry you, they make sure you’re taken care of and most importantly, that you’ve enjoyed a Pegu experience. Frankly, there’s no where else in Manhattan I’d rather buy a drink.

(P.S — Thank you Sarah R. for introducing me to Pegu.)

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