Answer: Nothing. It’s called a Zelda and it’s going to single-handedly send me back to my gastroenterologist so he can disapprovingly shake his head while scribbling in my file that he thinks I’m an alcoholic.
Last night, I invited my friend, Angie, to join me for a drink at Pegu Club. After she got through the 30 minutes of laughter at the name (which apparently sounds like the Chinese word for “butt”), she trekked down to W. Houston to be my bar buddy. Right now, Pegu is working its way into my heart as my go-to bar. If you treat imbibing with the same scrutiny that you treat eating, then save your drinking dollars for places where it’s worth it. Pegu makes enjoying your cocktail the forefront of your evening instead of relegating it to just an accompaniment to dining.
What’s funny is that this is my second trip to Pegu in a week. Stop shaking your heads and judging, I had to go for work!!! Sure, maybe once that work was finished (quickly since it was just a delivery), I could have left without sampling a cocktail (or 4), but I’m weak. What else is new. So after my delivery yesterday, I sat down at the bar and said hello to Scott, inventor of the Zelda, which basically makes him the mastermind behind my downfall. A Zelda is a muddled cherries take on a Fitzgerald, which is basically a gin sour with bitters. It’s tart, not too sweet, has that aftertaste of bitters that lingers on the back of your tongue, and comes with the fun of watching the millisecond ignition of a round of lemon zest’s aromatic oils. And topped with a skewer of more of those rum-soaked cherries… trouble.
As I waited for Angie, I placed my Zelda order, leading her to be able to use the classic, “I’ll have what she’s having” when asked her drink order. Like me, Angie fell in love with Zelda, which is where the trouble began. As we caught up and discussed the meaning of life (as everyone should do when a good cocktail is inspiring you and loosening your reserve), our laughter decibel crept upwards. Eventually, poor Scott had to call in the reserves and Del was forced to tag team in and cover our next drink order. This time, I went with the Little Italy, one of the smoothest Manhattans that I’ve ever had that’s topped with, of course, those damn rum-soaked cherries.
Our Little Italy round encouraged us to start making friends with any unfortunate soul who happened to be sitting or trying to work within a 10 ft radius around us. I tried to help the couple to my left make a love connection on what looked like a first date while Angie chatted about Dante and Italy with Del before finding out that her neighbor on the right went to school with her friend’s good friend… My efforts to set up the couple succeeded in the sense that they seemed to bond over their common desire for me to leave them alone. At least it was more successful than my sober attempts to set people up. And then of course we missed Zelda so much that even though we shouldn’t have had a third round, two Zeldas found their way to our Pegu-crested napkins, which almost made us miss our reservation at Salumeria Rosi — more on that little piece of amazingness next week.
With Zelda-courage pumping through my veins, I was able to procure a few pictures, which are a Pegu Club no-no. And I was about to post them until I wrote that last line… Now, out of respect for Pegu and its rules (and a desire to return and see my good friend Zelda again), I’ve decided not to post them. Sorry to disappoint, but if you’re curious, you should just go checkout the real thing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to call in, wait in a phone booth, or find a hidden door. Head over early and stay the evening: Pegu Club, 77 W. Houston St.