On the Sauce: Winter Penicillin

You could probably use a good dose of this seasonal riff on a modern classic.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: Winter Penicillin
Chris Fasick

Look, I'll admit, I'm not the biggest Scotch drinker. It's not my least favorite spirit by any means, either. After all, Scotch is still whisky, and vodka is still vodka.

Mixed with the right ingredients, Scotch can also make for a really tasty cocktail — Penicillin, for example. Dreamed up by bartender Sam Ross in New York City, the 13-year-old drink, often referred to as a modern classic, has become a household name of sorts within a short period of time, at least compared to several of the cocktails we've talked about that were created many, many moons ago.

I'm not sure how Ross settled on the name Penicillin, but with ingredients like two kinds of Scotch, honey and ginger, the cocktail sounds more like something you'd call "Grandpa's cough medicine." In fact, now that we've jumped from the common cold to a straight-up "flu epidemic," I feel like a few good doses of Penicillin couldn't hurt.

Naturally, we gotta do a riff on this already great cocktail. Our wintery recipe swaps the original's lemon with in-season grapefruit, combining the citrus with a honey syrup of rosemary and thyme.

This drink is a great introduction to Scotch for the uninitiated, especially when Monkey Shoulder is used as your base spirit. Give it a try, seriously. You won't be sorry.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: Winter Penicillin
Chris Fasick

Winter Penicillin

Makes 1

Rosemary-Thyme Honey Syrup:

4 ounces honey

4 ounces water

4 sprigs rosemary, stems removed

2 sprigs thyme, stems removed

In a small bowl, add all ingredients. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. (Pro tip: To remove stems from thyme and rosemary, peel hand over stems in reverse of the way the leaves are growing.


2 ounces blended Scotch

1/4 ounce single-malt Scotch

1 ounce fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

1 ounce Rosemary-Thyme Honey Syrup

Mineral water (optional)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add Scotch, grapefruit juice and syrup. Shake until well-chilled. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with mineral water. Garnish with a grapefruit peel speared with a rosemary sprig.

Connect with CL columnist Chris Fasick on Twitter, or email him at [email protected] if there's a local cocktail or a recipe you'd like featured.


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