Locating the Patiala Peg: Origin & Transformation

Long before India could even imagine launching a full-fledged moon mission, it perhaps made the most significant contribution to the world. It is something so innately intoxicating, any sort attempt at contempt does not stand a chance, for it has the power to tease even the biggest of the hotshots and the audacity to bring the greatest of the cocktails to its feet. Meet the Patiala Peg!

For decades, the Patiala Peg has been an established Indian measure of drinkability. Somewhere in the middle, it transformed from being just a pour to an epitome of masculinity that some would find outrageous. To justify a peg named Patiala, one had to keep pouring alcohol until the eyebrows were raised.

The origin of Patiala Peg is with Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who ruled Patiala from 1891 to 1938. Besides being the owner of an entire fleet of Rolls Royce cars and the famous Patiala necklace, the Maharaja also turned heads with his extravagant lifestyle. It was one of these parties where the Patiala Peg originated – however, the exact source is still largely debated.

The Maharaja owned a distinguished Polo Team composed of the fiercest Sikh players. One day, he requested the ‘Viceroy’s Pride’, a team full of tall and proficient Irishmen to join for a Tent-Pegging match. The Irish players supposedly took pride in their capability to drink. The night before the match, at a dinner party, the Maharaja commissioned his servants to pour unusually large pegs of whiskey. The result- the Irish players subdued by the hangover was unable to concentrate and lost the match. Post-match once the players expressed their grievances about the large whiskey pegs that they were served, the Maharaja is said to have replied saying “Yes, in Patiala our pegs are large!” And, that is how the Patiala Peg was born.