The Penicillin cocktail might not have proven healing properties but a shot on a cold autumn night will surely do a good job flushing out the chill from your bones. The drink was originally conceived by a New York bartender going by the name of Sam Ross. This cocktail takes all the comforting, time-tested ingredients of a homemade tonic for an itchy throat and combines it with a dose of Scotch whisky for good measure. But that’s not it. The drink is finished with spoon of aromatic Islay malt, lending it a fragrance reminiscent of woodsmoke-infused autumn breeze.
Barkeeps since have modified Ross’ original formula, swapping out the whiskey for rum, gin, and tequila – all bearing excellent results. The original mix with a whisky base is still considered to be a cut above the rest, especially if you use some syrup made by macerating the ginger in honey. The syrup has a pretty decent shelf-life if refrigerated properly and whipping up a jarful is easy – just grate half a cup of ginger into a container and cover with three cups of honey and one cup of water. Tighten the lid and leave it for a week.
Mix Your Own Penicillin
Mix 60 ml of blended Scotch whiskey with 20 ml fresh lemon juice, and 20 ml home-made ginger-honey syrup. Muddle a thick slice of fresh lemon in a shaker, pour in the mixture, add ice, and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, top with a spoonful of Islay whiskey, and serve.
Often overshadowed by its forerunner, the mint julep, the origin of the classic whiskey smash stands open to interpretation. The earliest dates back to 1862 and talks about a peculiarly American drink wildly popular among the denizens of the South. The recipe called for a simple concoction of muddled mint leaves and sugar with equal parts peach and regular brandy served over cracked ice.
At a time when spiffy new cocktails are in vogue, revelling in the past is often a welcome change. After all, even the most foamed and smoked, avant-garde cocktail bars also rave over the classics. Why? Because the best of vintage cocktails have been groomed so perfectly over decades that they never become obsolete. Old is gold indeed.