If you have partied in North India, or even gone out with friends for a few drinks, there is a good chance you would have heard the term ‘Patiala Peg’ being used. Accompanied by loud banter and an attempt to outshine or exhibit bravado, the Patiala peg has come to signify more than a measure of whisky, it is almost a sign of ‘masculinity’ in Punjab.
Does it only refer to whisky?
Always. Patiala pegs are only requested when you’re drinking whisky. It is not common to ask for one when you prefer vodka or other spirits. It is usually had on the rocks or with some soda and ice.
History of Patiala Peg
There are multiple theories on this, all of which revolve around Maharaja Sir Bhupinder Singh who ruled the princely state of Patiala from 1900 till his death in 1938.
“Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala had a Polo team, which was undefeated during his reign. Part of his army consisted of legendary warriors of Punjab. Their favourite pastime was skullpegging. The skulls of their enemies buried half way into the ground, they lifted the skulls by pegging them with their spears as they rode their horses, rider and horse inebriated with ‘bhang’. The civilized version of the game came to be known as ‘Tent Pegging’. It was a fearsome Maharaja’s generous reward for a fine performance and dire retribution for the loser that made the Patiala team world tent-pegging champions. It was in the Patiala tradition to invite the ‘Viceroys Pride’, for a friendly engagement in the Maharajas territory.
The ‘Viceroys Pride’, all Irish men, handsome in their gait, were the ones who would drink till the night’s end, and were still able and proud to walk straight.
When the ‘Viceroys Pride’ arrived in Patiala for a friendly match, the home team felt nervous and feared that if they lost the game, it would be their skull on which their Maharaja would peg his spear. So a conspiracy was hatched.
On the evening before the encounter, the ‘Viceroys Pride ‘ was entertained to the pouring of a double measure of whiskey in every peg, later called the “Patiala Peg”. In the morning, they went into the friendly match of tent pegging, their heads heavy and groggy. While they were drinking, the pegs used for tent pegging were replaced with smaller ones for the ‘Viceroys Pride’ and the larger ones for the home team.
So how much is a Patiala Peg
The rough volume of a Patiala peg is around 120ml but most of the modern pubs that serve the Patiala as a heritage quirk serve up a 90ml.
But why did the Patiala Peg not take over the world
For one, most of the world doesn’t know what a Peg is – order one at a bar at New Orleans or in Spain and you’ll get a ‘huh?’ or ‘What?’ The world drinks according to the standard measure – 30 ml. A shot is 44 ml, a double is 89 ml. They don’t know what a peg is. Plus according to Deepali Gupta, Editor Of Whatshot.in the West never really took over the culture of pouring an obscenely large drink and then sipping it through the night. So, the Patiala Peg never really got the celebrity endorsements that Yoga did.