This Penicillin Is Medicinal, Too, But the Boozy Kind

I had to make a tough call the other day when serving drinks on a cold November 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.

It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol that’s strong enough to stop bacterial infections.


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 Laphroaig 10 (more affordable) or Lagavulin 16 (expensive)
  • 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 2 oz. blended scotch, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 oz. 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.


Follow the author at @awalkerinLA

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