Penicillin Cocktail is a whiskey drink that is loaded with amazing flavors such as ginger, lemon and honey. It is sweet, it is fresh, it is spicy and it is simply DELICIOUS. The Penicillin is perfect as a Winter cocktail when you’ve got a sore throat, need a drink to warm you right up or my favorite – for St. Patrick’s Day!
Last year for St. Patrick’s Day I made an Irish coffee. It is a fabulous coffee drink, that I could drink all the time. However, sometimes I want it to be a little fresher. Like a classic Whiskey Sour or this Penicillin cocktail. The funny thing is I actually am not a hardcore drinker, but I do see why people like whiskey. I could never in a million years drink it neat, but mixed with the wonders of sugar, ginger and lemon and I am allll in!
Just saying that if you don’t like whiskey neat, that does not mean you won’t like this!
The Origin of the Penicillin Cocktail
The Penicillin was originally created by the New York bartender Sam Ross in 2005 and is usually made with whiskey, although I’ve seen it with both rum and tequila as well. It uses a mild whiskey as its base, along with ginger, honey and lemon. It is topped with a stronger woody whiskey, such as an Islay Malt. However, I am one of those who only own one whiskey and do not run to the liquor store to buy things I’d rarely use. This means that this recipe only has one kind of whiskey, and you know what – I don’t care, because this is a darn good cocktail that I’m sure you will like too!
I was introduced to this recipe by watching one of my favorite cocktail men on Facebook. I then went to his website and used the recipe from there. So here’s a link to the Cocktail Chemistry version of the Penicillin. I have altered this recipe to be a little less alcoholic, which is just my preference.
How to Make Ginger Syrup
Because you need to make a ginger syrup, this recipe takes a little time the first time you make it. But because the ginger syrup is more than enough for one cocktail, you will always have the Penicillin cocktail right at your fingertips (or in the fridge).
Remove the peel from the ginger. It’s easiest to scrape using the back of a spoon. If you’ve got a juicer, this is the definite best way of juicing your ginger. You need less ginger to make the same amount of juice. However, if you don’t have a juicer, you can use a food processor and then a nut milk bag or a cheesecloth. Just squeeze the juice out of the pulp.
Then combine the ginger juice with an equal amount of sugar. So 1/2 cup of ginger juice needs 1/2 cup of sugar. Shake to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a jar with a tight lid. This mixture holds in the fridge for at least 1 month. If you add a splash of vodka to the syrup it could maybe last longer, but I have not tried this.
What to Make with Ginger Syrup?
I thought to myself the first time I made this that: ‘what am I going to doo with all this ginger syrup?’ then I tasted it and I was like: ‘oooh I could drink this all by itself it’s so delicious’. So yeah, you can pour this ginger syrup in literally anything that could fit with both ginger and sugar. I’ve made ginger ales, ginger tea, ginger water. I would love to try it in a cake! The sky is the limit.
How to Make Honey Syrup
Okay, so honey is a syrup already. But this honey syrup is a lot more pourable than regular honey. All you need to do is mix the honey with warm water until the honey dissolves. Pour this into a jar with a tight lid too and it will keep in the fridge, proobably forever, but it will obviously not last that long when you can make this delicious Penicillin Cocktail with it.
Is Whiskey Gluten Free and Vegan?
Yes, Scotch whiskey is gluten free, although it’s made from distilled wheat. However, some people with celiac disease still react to drinking whiskey. It is possible that the distillation process doesn’t remove 100 % of the gluten. My uneducated advice would be to try small amounts first, to see if you can handle it. If you don’t, you could use a whiskey that is made from something similar to corn – the sorghum whiskeys. James F.C. Hyde Whiskey, New Southern Revival and SS Sorghum Whiskey are three versions you could try. Read more about gluten free whiskey here.
Yes, whiskey is also vegan. Some whiskeys contain honey, but it will usually say so clearly on the label. All hard liquor is usually vegan! If you want to make this drink vegan, simply swap the honey syrup with maple syrup (no need to dilute with warm water). Read more about vegan alcohol here.
Equipment You Will Need for the Penicillin Cocktail
Just a list of equipment you may need to make cocktails in general. It is affiliate links, and if you purchase from these links you will help me (at NO extra cost to you) pay my enormous grocery bill, get better photo equipment and improve this blog for you!
- Measurement jigger <- that one shows oz., ml. and tbsp!
- Rocks glasses (or do like me and go for the unconventional round ones and all the whiskey fanatics will screamm it’s so outrageous)
- Citrus juice squeezer
- Strainer (if you don’t want ice in your drink)
- Preferably a juicer,
- if not, use a food processor, + nut milk bag/cheesecloth
- Jar with a tight lid
How to Make the Penicillin Cocktail
When you’ve made your two syrups, most of the work is done. Combine ginger syrup, honey syrup, lemon juice and whiskey with a few ice cubes in a shaker. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into your favorite whiskey glass. I do this, and then I add extra ice cubes in the drink, but that’s just me. So I am not one to judge on how you make your whiskey drinks! I also love to garnish with a rosemary sprig. It adds a nice, aromatic touch that goes wonderful with ginger and whiskey. Relax, and enjoy all this ‘cures all’ drink has to offer.
I’m one of those that drink ginger, honey and lemon drinks all year around. They are fresh enough for Summer, and soothing enough for Winter. So I’ve also made a Ginger Lemon Iced Tea or the caffeine free Sore Throat Tea with Honey and Ginger, and if you like the Penicillin cocktail, I urge you to try those as well!
If you are a whiskey lover like me, I’d go and check out all these 11 refreshing whiskey cocktails. They are citrusy, herby, and some are of course infused with coffee.
If You Like This, I’m Sure You’ll Like These Too
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
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Penicillin Cocktail with Ginger, Lemon and Honey
The Penicillin Cocktail
- 6 oz Scotch whiskey * 180ml
- 3 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice about 3 lemons
- 1.5 oz ginger syrup 3 tbsp. See below
- 1.5 oz honey syrup 3 tbsp. See below
- 2 sprigs rosemary for garnish, optional
Ginger Syrup - makes 1 cup
- 20 oz ginger 460-570g**. peeled and roughly chopped. to yield 1/2 cup juice
- 1/2 cup sugar 100g
Honey Syrup - makes 1 cup
- 3/4 cup honey 180ml/255g ***
- 1/4 cup hot water 60ml
- Remove the peel from the ginger. It's easiest to scrape using the back of a spoon.
- If you've got a juicer, this is the definite best way of juicing your ginger. You need less ginger to make the same amount of juice. However, if you don't have a juicer, you can use a food processor and then a nut milk bag or a cheesecloth. Just squeeze the juice out of the pulp.
- Then combine the ginger juice with an equal amount of sugar. So 1/2 cup of ginger juice needs 1/2 cup of sugar. Shake to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a jar with a tight lid. This mixture holds in the fridge for at least 1 month.
- Mix honey with warm water until the honey dissolves. Pour this into a jar with a tight lid too and it will keep in the fridge for at least 1 month.
The Penicillin Cocktail
- Combine ginger syrup, honey syrup, lemon juice and whiskey with a few ice cubes in a shaker. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into your favorite whiskey glass.
- I also love to garnish with a rosemary sprig. It adds a nice, aromatic touch that goes wonderful with ginger and whiskey. Relax, and enjoy all this 'cures all' drink has to offer.
Nutrition information is an estimate and is provided for informational purposes only. If you have any specific dietary concerns, please consult with your healthcare practitioner.