Okay, so the Penicillin Cocktail recipe is not exactly going to cure a niggling throat infection, but this zesty whiskey cocktail with its soothing notes of ginger and lemon will definitely warm you up from the inside out. Rounded off with a sweet kiss of honey and a dash of single-malt whiskey, it’s pretty much a cool version of the iconic Hot Toddy, and we’re here for this contemporary spin on the ultimate feel-better classic.
Ginger liqueur is an easy swop for fresh ginger if you have it
Honey syrup is made by combining equal parts honey & water over heat
A nice smokey bourbon really puts this drink over the top
Muddle the fresh ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shaker until well mashed
Add the Wild Turkey Bourbon 101, lemon juice, and honey syrup, along with ice and shake until well chilled
Double-strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice
Pour the Glen Grant Arboralis whiskey over the back of a spoon so it floats on top of the drink
Why is the cocktail called Penicillin?
The name Penicillin was given to this singular cocktail by its maker because its core ingredients – ginger, lemon and honey – have been used as natural remedies for centuries. It also had a nice old-world feel about it, and even though the Penicillin cocktail was first poured in 2005, it has its roots firmly in old-school cocktail tradition.
Its maker, Sam Ross, a Melbourne bartender working in New York City, was toying around with the composition of the Gold Rush, another new-era cocktail that’s essentially a riff on the Whiskey Sour, when he created the Penicillin cocktail. At first, he only added the ginger, but then he pushed out the boat by using a smooth bourbon as the base of the drink, and then ended on a high note with the smoky single-malt floated on top.
We love to make this drink with fresh muddled ginger because it adds a lovely freshness to the cocktail, but you can also opt to use ginger liqueur if you have some in the cupboard, or simply don’t feel like getting a muddle on.
One important thing to note is that honey as it is does not mix very well with other liquid ingredients. However, honey syrup is happily quite easy to make – you simply combine equal parts honey and hot water over heat, and stir it until it’s well mixed. Let it cool before using; this will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
What does the Penicillin cocktail taste like?
The gorgeous Penicillin Cocktail tastes like a refreshing version of the classic Hot Toddy. The ginger is pungent and spicy, while the lemon is bright and zesty, backed by buzzy sweetness of honey. Add to this the creamy caramel and clove notes of the Wild Turkey Bourbon 101 and the woody expression of the Glen Grant Arboralis, and you’ve got a cocktail that’s as satisfying to sip as it is to serve.