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The Penicillin

The Penicillin is a timeless classic that’s sure to tickle the taste buds of whisky enthusiasts and cocktail aficionados alike. With its roots deeply embedded in the art of mixology, this elixir is a celebration of the smoky, peaty goodness of Scotch whisky, brought to life with a dash of honey, a hint of ginger, and a touch of citrus.

The Penicillin Cocktail

Join us as we delve into its history, break down its components, and reveal the artistry behind crafting this modern classic. Whether you’re a seasoned whisky connoisseur or a curious cocktail enthusiast, there’s something in the Penicillin for everyone to savor and appreciate.


The Penicillin cocktail is a modern classic that burst onto the cocktail scene in the early 2000s. The cocktail was created by Australian bartender Sam Ross in 2005 while he was working at the Milk & Honey bar in New York City. Ross was experimenting with a smoky whiskey called The Peat Monster by Compass Box when he came up with the idea for the Penicillin. The Penicillin cocktail gets its name from the drug penicillin, which was discovered by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming.

Penicillin cocktail with ginger on wooden background

The cocktail’s name hints at the medicinal properties of some of its ingredients, with suggested effects similar to that of a hot toddy which is said to relieve the symptoms of cold and flu. The Penicillin quickly became a hit in the cocktail world and is now considered a modern classic. The original recipe for the Penicillin cocktail calls for a blend of Famous Grouse blended Scotch whisky, fresh lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup, and a float of smoky Islay Scotch whisky, such as Laphroaig 10 Year. The honey-ginger syrup adds sweetness and depth to the cocktail, while the smoky whisky float gives it a unique and complex flavor.

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Overall, the Penicillin cocktail is a testament to the creativity and innovation of modern mixology. Its unique blend of flavors and its nod to the medicinal properties of its ingredients make it a standout cocktail that is sure to impress.

How to Make It

The Penicillin Cocktail


Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Making a Penicillin cocktail is easier than you might think. Here's how to make it:


  • 2 ounces of blended scotch
  • 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce of honey-ginger syrup*
  • 1/4 ounce of Islay single malt scotch
  • Candied ginger for garnish


  1. Add the blended scotch, lemon juice, and syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until well-chilled.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Float the Islay single malt scotch on top.
  5. Garnish with candied ginger.

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The Penicillin cocktail is a versatile drink that can be made in many different ways. Here are some variations to try out:

Hot Penicillin Toddy

If you’re looking for a warm and cozy version of the Penicillin, try this twist. Instead of shaking and serving over ice, heat up the mixture of blended scotch, honey-ginger syrup, lemon juice, and hot water. Garnish with a lemon peel and enjoy.

Hot Penicillin Toddy

Gold Rush Cocktail

The Penicillin is often compared to the Gold Rush, another famous cocktail created by Milk & Honey bartender T.J. Siegal. To make a Gold Rush, simply substitute bourbon for scotch in the Penicillin recipe.

See also  15 Most Popular Peaty Scotch Whiskies to Try

Mezcal Penicillin

For a smokier twist on the classic Penicillin, swap out the scotch for mezcal. The resulting cocktail will have a unique and complex flavor profile that is sure to impress.

Mezcal Penicillin

Pisco Penicillin

Another interesting variation is the Pisco Penicillin. This version uses pisco instead of scotch and adds a spicy kick with the addition of fresh ginger and ginger liqueur.

Island Penicillin

For a tropical twist, try adding some rum to the mix. This version of the Penicillin is perfect for sipping on a hot summer day.

Island Penicillin

Tequila Penicillin

If you’re a fan of tequila, try swapping it in for the scotch in the Penicillin recipe. The resulting cocktail will have a spicy, sweet flavor that is sure to please. No matter which variation you choose, be sure to use fresh ice and garnish with a slice of ginger or a lemon peel for an extra pop of citrus. And remember, the Penicillin cocktail is a cure-all for whatever ails you, so enjoy responsibly!

Tequila Penicillin

What is the ABV of the Penicillin cocktail?

The ABV of the Penicillin cocktail will vary depending on the specific brands of scotch used, but it typically ranges from 20-25%.

Which whiskey is typically used in the Penicillin cocktail?

Blended scotch is typically used in the Penicillin cocktail, but you can experiment with different types of scotch to find your preferred flavor profile.

How many calories are in a Penicillin cocktail?

The number of calories in a Penicillin cocktail will depend on the specific brands of scotch and honey used, but it typically ranges from 200-250 calories per serving.

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What are some variations of the Penicillin cocktail?

Some popular variations of the Penicillin cocktail include using rye whiskey instead of scotch, adding apple cider vinegar for a tangy twist, or substituting tequila for a smoky margarita-inspired cocktail.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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