New Bar Classics: The Penicillin

First served up in 2005 at New York City’s Milk & Honey, versions of this stiff, smoky drink now dot cocktail menus all over the globe. Here’s the original.


The Penicillin

2–3 pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
2 ounces blended Scotch 
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce honey syrup (mix 3 parts honey to 1 part hot water)
¼ ounce smoky Scotch*
Candied ginger, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the ginger (or juice ¼ ounce of the root). Add the next three ingredients and ice. Shake well, and strain into a rocks glass over ice (preferably, a single large cube). Slowly trickle in the smoky Scotch over the backside of a spoon held a few inches above the rim. This ensures the smoky whiskey stays atop the drink, creating what barkeeps call a floater. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger speared on a toothpick.

*So, Why Two Scotches?

First things first. You should have at least two Scotches to sip in your arsenal. If not, The Penicillin is a great  reason. In terms of the drink, the milder, blended whiskey is the foundation, melding smoothly with the honey, lemon and ginger (try Compass Box Asyla, Johnnie Walker Red Label or Monkey Shoulder). The touch of smoky Scotch is the arrow point of the cocktail (try Laphroaig, Lagavulin or Oban). At first sip, the smokiness pleasingly blasts your senses. Then, as you tip it back and it mixes with the blended base, a symphony of complexity emerges.

Published on October 9, 2014



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