This Penicillin Is Medicinal, Too, But The Boozy Kind

This Penicillin Is Medicinal, Too, But The Boozy Kind

I was in a quandary the other day when serving drinks on a cold evening. Every cocktail I considered was fruity and frivolous — not appropriate for dinner guests huddling in depressing post-time-change darkness. Then I remembered: Liquid antibiotics.

A Penicillin is kind of the perfect cocktail for this time of year. Created by Sam Ross at NYC bar Milk & Honey, the penicillin takes its name from the antimicrobial medicine that’s used to kill bacteria. (Don’t worry: There’s no actual penicillin in the drink.)

While it won’t be strong enough to knock out the streptococci in your system, it is filled with a few restorative ingredients you might ingest if you were feeling sick: honey, ginger, lemon. Plus the scotch adds the perfect smokiness that warms the body with every sip (you might also try making a version with mescal).

Since I needed to self-medicate even more due to the turning back of the clocks, I improvised a bit and boiled some persimmons into the syrup, which added a great autumnal vibe and warm orange hue.

I prescribed two cocktails for each of my guests to fortify us against the coming winter. Did they make us all feel better? Yes, indeed.


The traditional recipe uses a honey-ginger simple syrup but I liked making a batch of the syrup with persimmons. Recipes call for two different scotches as the Islay single-malt has more peat which you want to float on top of the drink. Also try experimenting with mescal or other smoky spirits.

  • Blended scotch like Famous Grouse
  • Single-malt Islay scotch like Lagavulin 16
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 piece of fresh peeled sliced ginger, or any fruit really, I used two peeled sliced persimmons

Make the honey syrup by putting equal parts honey and water into a saucepan with the ginger or whatever fruit you want to use. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so until the honey is dissolved and/or the fruit is broken down. Strain solids out.

Put 60ml blended scotch, 30ml lemon juice, 30ml honey syrup into a shaker with a handful of ice and shake the living hell out of it. Strain it into a glass with one of those big square ice cubes. Float an ounce or so of single malt scotch on top. Take two, and call me in the morning.