At first glance, the Penicillin looks like a small twist on a Scotch-based Whiskey Sour or a boozy Hot Toddy - but it’s far more. Made with both blended and peaty Scotch and backed by ginger, the cocktail has become a true modern classic.
The Penicillin cocktail takes the flavours of honey and lemon juice combined with a piquant kick of fresh ginger, and layers them on a warming nip of whisky. What makes this drink sing however is the dual use of Scotch Whisky styles, especially when you add the peated component as a thin float.
Top tips –
Keep in mind that the heart of the drink is the blended Scotch, lemon and sugar (honey) syrup. They create balance in the drink. How you use the ginger and the peated malt is what makes the difference. Get those right, in particular the right level of heat and sweetness in the ginger syrup, and you’ll be blown away.
You can add in the peated malt at the same time as the rest of the whisky if you really want to. That said, using it as a float is the brilliance of the cocktail as it places the spirit’s smoky aromatics front and centre with each sip. It’s worth taking a moment to layer it on at the end.
There are two ways to make a great ginger syrup -
The first begins by peeling and thinly slicing root ginger. Place it in a saucepan with runny honey and water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool, put it in a sealed container and place it in a refrigerator so that it can all infuse overnight. Strain, bottle and off you go!
The second method is to juice fresh ginger and then strain. Add honey and water into the mix and it’s done. It’s quicker and in our opinion better – but can only be done if you have a juicer.