Current Cocktail: Penicillin


At a time when both the weather and current events make you want to medicate, booze can be a common first line of defence. Grandpappy’s medicine had a way of warding off disease and demons. Maybe even a certain orange-tinged goblin.

The thing is, Grandpappy didn’t have this specific cure-for-what-ails-ya, though one taste will make you swear you were sipping on a favorite of Hughes or Hemingway. Penicillin (the cocktail not the antibiotic) shares a birth year not with a washing machine or a jukebox but with the XBox 360. Invented in 2005 by Sam Ross at New York’s Milk and Honey, Penicillin has been a perfect drink for all my current dark clouds, be they cumulus, nativist, or literary because somehow I’m still working on this damned 1920’s sci-fi novel!

Anyway, let’s get into how to make this potent tincture. First, the ingredients.

  • 2 oz. Blended Scotch (I went for Johnnie Walker Red)
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice (Squeeze it fresh. Have some self-respect.)
  • 3/4 oz. Honey Syrup (1:1 ratio honey and water)
  • 1/4 oz. Islay Scotch (I went for Lagavulin 16 but Laphroaig is standard)
  • 3 quarter sized slices of fresh ginger.

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the ginger until you’ve extracted a decent amount of juice. Some recipes call for ginger syrup or a honey-ginger syrup. Don’t bother. The bite of fresh ginger, while not a powerful part of the drink, totally makes it.

Next add your whiskey, lemon juice, and honey syrup along with ice and shake it like a finger you just slammed in the door.

Pour the chilled concoction over ice in a rocks glass and using a bar spoon, float the Islay whisky over the top. Don’t stir it in. It’s there for the smokey aroma and the initial taste. Some recipes call for garnishing with crystalized ginger but I went for a lemon twist because it’s what I had on hand.

Go forth, medicate, and make your evening a bit brighter.


Editor’s note: Just as overuse of real antibiotics leads to negative consequences, so too does over consumption of the Penicillin cocktail. Dose accordingly.