It’s Friday afternoon and all I can think about are the Scotch whiskey cocktails I had in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Although it took me a while to warm up to the craziness that’s L.A., my taste buds were instantly swoon by the city’s cocktails. I remember one in particular, called the Penicillin, which I spotted and drank at several restaurants and bars (hey, when something’s that good!)
Intrigued by the name? A quick research taught me that it was created by New York City bartender Sam Ross back in 2005, and it’s said to be quite the cure-all—hence the clever moniker.
If you’re the kind of person that asks the bartender “What do you have that’s not too sweet?” you’ll love this cocktail. It’s fresh and smoky and tart and a touch spicy and all sorts of amazing. If you want to go fancy, get yourself one of those nifty Japanese-style giant ice cube molds, which will allow you to serve it L.A.-style. Otherwise, plain old ice cubes will do.
Scotch Whiskey Cocktail: The Penicillin
1½ oz blended Scotch (one that’s more sweet than smoky, and not too expensive, such as Famous Grouse)
½ oz Islay single malt Scotch (the good stuff: think Caol Ila, Laphroaig, or Ardbeg—Lagavulin might be a bit too smoky)
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz honey syrup (see note)
3 thin slices fresh ginger
Place the slices fresh ginger in a shaker and use a wooden muddler or wooden spoon to muddle it until it is bruised and broken up. Add the blended Scotch, Islay single malt Scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup, and add lots of ice cubes. Shake until the cocktail is icy cold, about 20 seconds.
Strain in a glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with an additional slice of ginger, and enjoy right away.
To make honey syrup, mix equal parts honey and water, and heat until the two are combined. Store in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Sam Ross’ original recipe.