The "Patiala Peg": Light-Hearted spoof for Whiskey Drinkers
With the Coronavirus on a rampage in the world and everybody writing about it, I thought it best to write something to cheer up the mood of the people. I can't think of anything better to write about then whiskey and the way it is drunk. Obviously everybody is not a whiskey drinker but all the same, even those who don't drink would like to read something fascinating.
If you sit in a bar in Singapore or India or for that matter in a five-star hotel in London and ask for a Patiala Peg the Barman will understand and immediately serve you one
Firstly, let me clarify, Patiala Peg only refers to good single malt whiskey and not to any other form of spirits. So when the Barman serves you a Patiala Peg what does it mean? It means that he will serve you an equivalent of two large pegs of whiskey. A normal peg of whiskey is 60ml but a Patiala peg will be equivalent to 120 ml, that is double of a normal large peg.
The word Patiala Peg is popular where ever the British raj was omnipotent. The etymology of the world is Patiala and peg. Patiala refers to the state of Patiala which was ruled by Maharajah Bhupendra Singh and peg as we know is a measure of whiskey or any another spirit
The word Patiala Peg has a history behind it and dates back the days of the Raj. Maharajah Bhupendra Singh was a fascinating character as well as a leader of the Sikhs. He was the ruler of the state of Patiala. He had a fleet of 40 Rolls-Royce cars and once even used Rolls-Royce cars for carrying garbage. He was fond of sports horse riding, and cricket and goes without saying that he had some of the most beautiful women in his haram and that included pure-blooded English girls
The Maharajah was fond of horses and riding. He maintained a horse Polo team and a tent pegging team Both games are almost similar but tent pegging is a shade more difficult.
It so happened that once the viceroy decided to visit Patiala and in his honor a match was arranged between the Patiala team of the Maharajah and a British team which had come from London
Maharajah Bhupinder Singh called his aides and told them that the Patiala team must win otherwise the people of a state would not respect him.
He told his aides that he would be throwing a big party on the eve of the match. Both the Indian team and the British team would attend. He told them that while the Indian team would be served normal pegs of whiskey (60ml), the opposing team would be served double the quantity (120ml) each time. In other words, they would be served the 'Patiala Peg'.
He also told them to ply the opposing team with as many Patiala pegs as possible.
The party duly commenced and the English team was served Patiala Pegs all through the party. The net result was that many in the team were knocked out and when they went for the match the next day they had a hangover.
The match started and both the teams got into the act. The British team which had drunk heavily during the night was not up to it its best and lost the match.
At the end of the match when the prizes were being distributed, the captain of the English team commented to the Maharajah that they had been given larger pegs of whiskey and hence they were not at their best.
The Maharaja replied that this peg is the norm in Patiala and people referred to it as the 'Patiala Peg'. He further added that his only mistake was that he forgot to tell him about it so that he could have moderated his drink. The captain had a good laugh and congratulated the Maharajah on his team's victory.
From that day onwards the word 'Patiala Peg' has become synonymous with two large pegs. In any reputed bar in places where the British ruled the Barman will immediately understand what you want when you're telling him you want a 'Patiala Peg.'
Maharajah Bhupinder Singh
Maharajah Bhupendra Singh was a exciting character and it will not be out of place to mention a few things about him. The Maharajah was also, along with the good things of life a connoisseur of beautiful women. There is a viewpoint in the hill station of Shimla called "Scandal Point". It is rumored that the Maharaja seduced the daughter of the commander in chief of India from this point.
Bhupinder Singh frequently visited Europe and he was a greatly respected man. When in London, the British army always gave him a guard of honor. In 1935 he visited Germany and met Adolf Hitler, the German leader. Hitler had earmarked just 20 minutes of his time for the meeting which however stretched to over 2 hours. Hitler was fascinated by the man and invited him for lunch.
Hitler also presented the Maharajah with Zepplin 8 Maybach car. It is on record that Hitler presented this car only to 3 people in the world and one of them was the Maharajah of Patiala. Hitler assumed that the Maharajah would be leading and opposing the Raj but unfortunately, the Maharaja died in 1940
Maharajah Bhupendra Singh has left his mark in Indian history. Not many know that he was to be the captain of the Indian cricket team touring England in1932 but he stepped back as he was not well.
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala is now history. The state of Patiala has been integrated with the Indian Union but people all over India still talk of Maharaja Bhupendra Singh with and respect and awe. People like me who drink good whiskey all the time cannot forget him and his contribution to whiskey drinking. His invention of the word Patiala Peg is a landmark event in the history of whiskey drinking.
Bhupinder Singh was a colorful man and obviously it's a good thing that single malt whiskey is connected to his name. Yesterday night at the club bar in Singapore I asked for a Patiala peg of Macallan Quest and promptly the barmen served me one. Cheers.