Penicillin Cocktail Recipe

I’m not sure what the Penicillin cocktail is supposed to cure, other than sobriety. It’s a terrific classic drink that’s a bit like honey lemon ginger tea, except with rather a lot of Scotch.

Penicillin cocktail with lemon twist on table

This is a unique recipe in that it features Scotch, fresh lemon juice, a honey-ginger syrup you make ahead of time…and more Scotch.

The Origins of the Penicillin Cocktail

The Penicillin cocktail was created in 2005 by mixologist Sam Ross at the famous New York City bar, Milk & Honey. It features a honey-ginger syrup, with both of those ingredients hailed for their healing properties.

The Ingredients and Preparation

To make a Penicillin cocktail, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Blended Scotch whiskey
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Honey syrup (see notes on how to make it)
  • Smoky Islay Scotch whiskey
  • A slice of ginger for garnish

Here’s how easily you can prepare a Penicillin cocktail:

  1. In a shaker, combine the blended Scotch whiskey, lemon juice, and honey syrup.
  2. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds.
  3. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  4. Gently pour the smoky Islay Scotch whiskey over the back of a spoon to create a float on top.
  5. Garnish with a slice of ginger.

The Flavor Profile

The Penicillin cocktail has a very nice balance of sweet and tart flavors. The blended Scotch whiskey provides a rich and smooth base, while the lemon juice adds a refreshing tartness.

The honey syrup brings a touch of sweetness, and the smoky Islay Scotch whiskey float adds depth and complexity to the drink.

The slice of ginger garnish adds a subtle spiciness, enhancing the overall flavor profile of this cocktail. But if you don’t have candied ginger, a lemon slice is also great.

Pairing the Penicillin Cocktail

The Penicillin cocktail pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Its smoky and spicy profile complements rich and savory foods such as grilled meats, charcuterie, and aged cheeses.

The sweetness from the honey syrup also pairs well with desserts like chocolate truffles or a creamy cheesecake.

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or enjoying a relaxing evening at home, the Penicillin cocktail is a versatile choice that can complement many different dishes.

Tips for Serving and Enjoying the Penicillin Cocktail

To enhance your Penicillin cocktail experience, here are a few tips:

  • Use a quality blended Scotch whiskey as the base for a smooth and well-rounded flavor. Don’t break the piggy bank – just choose a nice, drinkable bottle.
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice is essential for a bright and zesty taste.
  • Experiment with different honey varieties, such as wildflower or lavender, to add unique flavor nuances.
  • Serve the Penicillin cocktail in a rocks glass with a large ice cube to keep the drink chilled without diluting it too quickly.
  • Take a moment to appreciate the aroma of the cocktail before taking your first sip. Inhaling the smoky and citrusy scents will further enhance your drinking experience.
Penicillin cocktail with lemon twist on table
Yield: 1 drink

Penicillin Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The Penicillin cocktail is a terrific classic drink with a fascinating history. It's a unique recipe in that it features two kinds of Scotch, fresh lemon juice, and a honey-ginger syrup you make ahead of time.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of blended Scotch whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce of honey syrup (a mixture of equal parts honey and water)
  • 1/4 oz of smoky Islay Scotch whiskey
  • Slice of ginger for garnish or lemon wheel

Instructions

  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Add the blended Scotch whiskey, lemon juice, and honey syrup.
  3. Shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds.
  4. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Gently pour the smoky Islay Scotch whiskey over the back of a spoon to create a float on top.
  6. Garnish with a slice of ginger or orange wheel.

Notes

Prepare the honey-ginger syrup by putting 1 cup of water, 1 cup of honey and a generous piece of peeled and thinly sliced gingerl in a saucepan over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Afterward, transfer the mixture to the refrigerator and allow it to steep overnight. The next day, strain the syrup using a cheesecloth to remove the ginger pieces.

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