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Audrey Saunders

Pegu Club
Co-Owner & Beverage Director
New York
Audrey Saunders is one of the pioneering leaders of modern mixology and the craft cocktail industry. Her New York cocktail lounge, Pegu Club, is also renowned as the bar that jumpstarted the craft-cocktail movement as well as the artisanal spirit industry. Through her mentorship, Pegu Club is largely responsible for spawning a number of the country's finest mixologists and bars, and since opening in 2005, Pegu Club has become world-renowned as the “gold standard” for cocktails.

Cited by the New York Times as “The Harvard of Mixology”, the award-winning Pegu Club has established itself not only for its beverage program, but for all facets of service in an uncomplicated, civilized atmosphere. Audrey gives great credit to her dear friend & mentor, Dale DeGroff, who taught her all aspects of the craft. Many of Audrey's innovations have been pivotal in advancing the beverage industry into the 21st century.

Since 2002, Audrey has held the position of Beverage Chair for the Citymeals-on-Wheels Annual Tribute to James Beard charity event in New York City. From 2001 to 2010, Audrey was the Beverage Chair for Share Our Strength’s Taste of The Nation charity event as well. Audrey has climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, is a licensed skydiver and makes a pretty mean Salmon Mousse thanks to her mom. She has attended to Royalty, gone swimming in New York City’s Rockefeller Center fountain, and once operated heavy machinery in midtown Manhattan.

She now shares her time between New York & Seattle and working with her husband and fellow cocktail pioneer, Robert “Drinkboy” Hess. Currently, they are developing a small cocktail school in Washington state. She has a low-tolerance for whiners, defeatists, and naysayers. Life should be approached with a can-do attitude, and she looks forward to seeing what the cards have in store for her next.

Through her efforts, recognitions include Bon Appetit Magazine’s “Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year” award, TONY’s “Best New Bar”, and Esquire Magazine’s “Best New York Bar”. Audrey has also won “World’s Best Bartender”, “World’s Best Bar”, “Best American Bar” and “Worlds Best Mentor” from Tales of The Cocktail. In 2009, the New York Times deemed Audrey’s Gin Gin Mule cocktail one of the most significant cocktails of the decade, and in 2010, Imbibe Magazine voted Audrey one of the 25 most influential cocktail personalities of the past century. In both 2012 and 2013 Pegu Club was honored as a finalist for a James Beard award in its “Best Bar” category.

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