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What is a Patiala Peg and why it is called so?

Patiala pegs can only be there if you're drinking whisky. You won't find people who prefer vodka or other spirits, asking for a Patiala Peg.

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Most of the stories about the origin of 'Patiala Peg' revolves around Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. Wikipedia
Most of the stories about the origin of 'Patiala Peg' revolves around Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. Wikipedia
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If you have partied in North India,’Patiala Peg’ is no new term for you. Throughout time, the Patiala peg has come to signify more than a measure of whisky, it is almost a sign of ‘ Punjabi masculinity.’ The rough volume of a Patiala peg is around 120ml. This is roughly four ‘smalls’ or two ‘large’ drinks in casual terms.

So is it whisky?
Yes, it is. Patiala pegs can only be there if you’re drinking whisky. You won’t find people who prefer vodka or other spirits, asking for a Patiala Peg.

Patiala Peg is very North Indian party's quintessential drink. Pixabay
‘Patiala Peg’ is very North Indian party’s quintessential drink. Pixabay

How did it get its name?

There can be multiple answers to this, all of which revolve around Maharaja Sir Bhupinder Singh who ruled the Patiala from 1900 till  1938. The founder of State Bank of Patiala, lived life king size.

It is believed that the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh had a polo team that consisted of legendary Sikh warriors like himself. He once invited the Irish team called Viceroy’s Pride for a friendly match of ‘tent pegging.’ It is a game where players while riding on horseback have to collect objects with their spears. When the Irish team arrived, the home-team got nervous after seeing their imposing personalities.

So, the Maharaja had an idea, in the feast preceding the day of the match, he ensured that enormous drinks were served to the Irish. As can be expected, the Irish team woke up dazed and couldn’t play well. When they went to the Maharaja to complain, he famously replied, “Yes, in Patiala our pegs are large!”

There are more than one story about the origin of 'Patiala Peg' and they all are a proof of what an extravagant life Maharaja Bhupinder Singh lives. Pixabay
There is more than one story about the origin of ‘Patiala Peg’ and they all are a proof of what an extravagant life Maharaja Bhupinder Singh lives. Pixabay

Another story pulls out the references to this in Captain Amarinder Singh’s (the grandson of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh) biography, which states that it was actually a cricket match, not tent pegging.

Apart from this popular story, there are others too. Local descendants of the Maharaja’s courtiers say that the peg is actually something completely different. The Maharaja of Patiala loved good parties and threw many. However, he was always late and never used to reach his own parties on time. The guests had to keep drinking, as they couldn’t leave till he arrives. The smart ones used to put a white napkin around empty glasses and sip from them, so that they could wake up sober next morning.

The last story refers to similar parties but instead of pouring drink after drink, they used to just pour one enormous peg to sip from all evening. Thus, the term ‘Patiala peg.’

There are many theories about the name of this particularly famous drink, which only pique more interest in it. No matter what is the origin of ‘Patiala Peg,’ it still continues to be one of the most popular drink which north Indians love to order during parties.

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