by Christopher Wallace, 07/30/2013 [Updated 02/24/2016]
Pegu Club. Photo: Ben Dwork
Martinis and More
For a drinking town with a tendency toward the odd fad, NYC has always remained incredibly faithful to the old martini. And the perfect martini bar, often low lit, with three portions of character and a splash of class—so difficult to find but sublime when discovered—is especially venerated in these parts. Witness the 6pm crowd of professionals at Raoul's, an old-timey French bistro toward the western end of Prince Street. These are not just happy-hour devotees at the watering hole, nor is there high ceremony to the libations—it's just ladies and gentleman enjoying a drink, and maybe a dozen oysters, the perfect steak, perhaps, but definitely the drink. More artisanal and deeply influential on the City's cocktail scene is Pegu Club. Opened by Audrey Saunders in 2005, when mixology was not in common parlance, or practice, the bar expanded patrons' and bartenders' cocktail vocabulary. With inventive recipes, like the Earl Grey MarTEAni, and reintroduced classics, Pegu Club offers libations that are delicious, satifying and even edifying. Many of the bar's veterans have gone on to open establishments of their own, further cementing the venue's influence on the NYC bar scene.