The Penicillin

Photo: Heather Sperling | June 2008

Good scotch cocktails are hard to come by. We have a few classics, like the Blood and Sand, but for the most part, whisky cocktails lean much more heavily on bourbon or rye. Scotch just has such a unique and present flavor of it’s own that it tends to compete too harshly with other ingredients. And besides, it’s just so delicious when served neat.

But a good friend e-mailed me this morning asking that I send her the recipe for one of her favorite cocktails, The Penicillin, and in doing so she brought this great scotch cocktail back to my mind. The Penicillin was created by infamous Milk & Honey bartender Sam Ross, and it’s sure to cure what ails ya.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

2oz blended scotch (Famous Grouse is a good choice)
3/4oz lemon juice
3/4oz honey-ginger syrup
1/4oz Islay scotch (such as Laphroig)

Add the blended scotch, lemon juice and honey-ginger syrup to your cocktail shaker along with ice. Shake well, and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Float the Islay scotch on top and serve. Sam Ross would garnish with a piece of candied ginger; you should, too.

For honey-ginger syrup, I usually use Alex Day’s recipe, found in ReadyMade Magazine (along with some other great syrup recipes). In writing about the Penicillin himself, Paul Clarke of the Cocktail Chronicles blog provides this recipe:

For ginger-honey syrup (my recipe; chime in if you use something different): combine 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until well combined. Add an ounce or so of peeled, sliced fresh ginger and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely; strain.

Either recipe should do the trick.

The Penicillin is likely the most well-balanced scotch cocktail you’ll find. The combination of the lemon, honey and ginger help to tame the strong flavor of the scotch, without suppressing it entirely, and the Islay float adds some smokiness to bring it all together.



Tags: blended scotch, cocktail, ginger, honey, Islay, lemon, Milk & Honey, recipe, Sam Ross, scotch, syrup

One Response to “The Penicillin”

  1. Barina Craft Says:

    Great to be reminded of the not so ordinary drinks once in a while. Scotch whisky cocktails often limited to your reference to Blood & Sand along with the Rusty Nail & Rob Roy.

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