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Food

Penicillin Cocktail Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 21, 2020 • 1 min read

If you’re looking for a soothing drink on a chilly night, look no further than the Penicillin cocktail. This cocktail takes three flavors common in cough drops and herbal remedies—honey, lemon, and ginger—and adds a strong dose of Scotch whisky and a splash of Islay scotch. The Penicillin served in a rocks glass over ice and garnished with candied ginger.

The Penicillin is an innovative drink because, before its invention, mixed drinks made with scotch were rare—scotch’s strong smokiness often doesn’t combine well with other flavors. But when scotch is mixed with the sweet warmth of ginger-honey syrup and the bite of lemon magic happens, making the Penicillin a perfect comfort drink.

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The History of the Penicillin Cocktail

The Penicillin is a recent addition to the world of mixed drinks—it was developed in 2005 as a riff on the whiskey sour by bartender Sam Ross. Ross had the idea for the Penicillin at the New York City cocktail bar Milk & Honey, and the drink’s aromatic blend of feel-good ingredients made it an instant modern classic cocktail. Bartenders have riffed on Ross’s original recipe to create variations of the recipe that use rum, tequila, or gin.

Penicillin Cocktail Recipe

Makes
1 cocktail, plus honey-ginger syrup for up to 6 drinks
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
40 min
Cook Time
35 min

Ingredients

The honey-ginger syrup can be made in advance. Preserve the extra syrup in an airtight container; it can last up to a month in the fridge.

For the honey-ginger syrup:

  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup water
  • 3-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

For the cocktail:

  • 2 ounces blended scotch
  • ¾ ounces fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounces honey-ginger syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 splash (about ¼ ounce) Islay single-malt scotch
  • Optional: Candied ginger, for garnish
  1. Make the honey-ginger syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the honey, water, and ginger. Stir until mixed, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Allow to cool before using in cocktails.
  2. Pour the blended scotch, lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup, and ice into a cocktail shaker.
  3. Shake until chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Carefully pour the Islay scotch over the cocktail (this can be done by pouring the drink over the back of a bar spoon) so that it floats atop the drink. Garnish with candied ginger, if desired. Serve cold.

Learn more about mixology from award-winning bartenders. Refine your palate, explore the world of spirits, and shake up the perfect cocktail for your next gathering with the MasterClass All-Access Pass.

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