World Whiskey Day 2024: Experts On The Popularity Of Patiala Peg
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Whiskey, the popular spirit, has won the hearts of people all across the globe. Every year, World Whiskey Day is celebrated on the 18th of May to raise a toast to one of the most celebrated liquor. The international occasion gives everyone a chance to dive deep into the various traditions of drinking whiskey.

When it comes to drinking whiskey in India, a rather renowned name surfaces at every party – The Patiala Peg. If you are curious about what exactly a Patiala peg is, where it comes from, and its popularity, read on Slurrp’s exclusive interview with mixologists and experts across the country to get all your answers.

What Is Patiala Peg?

Patiala peg got its name from the royal city of Punjab, Patiala, in the 1900s. During the years, the rulers of Patiala were known for their extravagant lifestyles, refined tastes, and their love for a generous pour of liquor. Thanks to the regal touch of whiskey, the drink became a prized possession amongst the royal families and the elite class.

“The Patiala peg is an integral part of the urban and rural drinking vocabulary in Punjab. It is actually a measure of whiskey defined by the distance between the index and little finger when they are held parallel against a glass. It is roughly equivalent to 120 ml.” tells Alex Fernandes, the General Manager Operations at Amazonia. 

He further informs, “The units of measurement for a glass of whiskey followed nowadays are 30ml for a small pour and 60ml for a large pour. Hence, serving 120 ml automatically increases double a large, which is a famous terminology in the hospitality industry and is to date considered to be a great party starter.”

History Of Patiala Peg

Now that you know the basic terminology of a Patiala peg, you might wonder where exactly did it come from? To get insights from an expert, Slurrp talked to Jitin Merani, the cofounder of Glenwalk and Cartel Bros, and Neeraj Singh, the Chief Business Officer of Glenwalk. The experts say, “The Patiala Peg, a legendary measure of liquor, traces its origins back to the royal courts of Punjab. Traditionally, it is said to have been introduced by the Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh, who hosted grand festivities and desired a drink that stood out in both quantity and spirit.”

Diving deep into the story, the Head Mixologist at Charlee, Sunny Michael D'Souza, tells, “During the reign of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who ruled the princely state of Patiala from 1900 to 1938, serving 120 ml of whisket got extremely popular. Thanks to his habit, the Maharaja, one of the most famous and contentious figures of modern Indian history, gathered a reputation for being an awesome host. He held parties for foreign dignitaries and sportsmen. But the one thing he particularly did not like was losing.”

Sunny Michael D'Souza further narrates, “The Maharaja had a powerful Polo team consisting of Sikh warriors. He once invited an Irish polo team called Viceroy for a friendly tournament of 'tent pegging' - where players were atop horseback and had to collect small objects with spears. Up until then, the Patiala team was fairly unchallenged, but their Irish opponents were strong and were determined to win the game.  To this effect, the Maharaja is believed to have come up with a strategic plan. He ordered his staff to plough the team with double measures of whisky at dinner before the big game. Predictably, the Irish team woke up in hangovers and weren't at their full potential. Thus, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s team emerged victorious. Legend has it that when the political agent of the Viceroy's team went to complain to the Maharaja, he replied by saying: "Yes, in Patiala, our pegs are larger". And ever since then, Patiala pegs have not only attracted attention in Punjab but across the country.” 

What Kind Of Whiskey Is Most Popular For A Patiala Peg?

While cocktails require a particular type of alcohol to get you a familiar and standard taste as per the written recipe, it’s not the case when it comes to Patiala peg. Since Patiala peg is all about serving a generous 120 ml of whiskey, it totally depends on a person’s own preference and palate. Also, due to the large pour of whiskey, people often tend to move towards slightly affordable whiskey.

However, looking at the trends, the most common type of whiskey used for a Patiala peg is Indian whiskey. They are not only affordable, but they also have a smooth texture that is known to be the go-to option for Indians. But since the concept of Patiala peg is not foreign across the globe, scotch is another popular whiskey that is widely served Patiala peg-style!

The Popularity Of Patiala Peg In Today’s World

Coming to the popularity of Patiala peg in today’s world, Jitin Merani, the cofounder of Glenwalk and Cartel Bros, and Neeraj Singh, the Chief Business Officer of Glenwalk, say, “Over time, the generous pour has not only become a symbol of Punjabi hospitality but also gained widespread popularity, celebrated for its robust and unapologetic approach to enjoyment.”

Slurrp also talked to Jenu Sunny, the Head Mixologist at one8 Commune, to get insights about how the Patiala peg is perceived by today’s generation. Jenny Sunny says, “Even today, Patiala peg is a symbol of extravagance, generosity, and hospitality of the hosts. Furthermore, its popularity soared as it became ingrained in Punjabi culture and featured prominently in folk songs, movies, and literature. Today, the Patiala Peg is not only a measure of alcohol but also a symbol of Punjabi pride and conviviality, celebrated in gatherings and festivities across India and beyond. Its history reflects the enduring influence of tradition and the power of shared experiences in shaping cultural practices.”

So, if you want to celebrate World Whiskey Day in style, why don’t you raise your glasses of the finest liqueur in Patiala peg style?