It always disappoints me that the Penicillin isn’t on the menu at more cocktail bars. It can be pretty simple to make and provides a similar flavor profile to the mules that everyone is obsessed with these days. For folks who think Mules are a little too sweet, there is a stronger, spicier cousin they can turn to called the Penicillin.
The Penicillin cocktail was created in the mid-2000s by Sam Ross at the famed mixology bar Milk & Honey. It was a riff on another favorite of the bar called the Gold Rush, which featured bourbon, lemon, and honey. But this one came with a peaty, smoky Islay scotch and honey-ginger syrup that is oh so comforting on a snowy winter night!
The first time I tried this cocktail was actually in Philly at a super random mixology place in Rittenhouse Square. It was a snowy night and I literally did not find a single thing on the menu that looked appealing, so I settled for the random drink. And to my surprise, I LOVED IT. 😍 There was something about the fresh ginger flavor that was so much stronger than ginger beer that kept me going back for more.
Since I moved to the west coast, I have literally never been able to find this cocktail again. Maybe it’s only for sweater weather people! In any case, I set out to make a better for you version because I easily drank 3 of these in one sitting and my body just cannot process that anymore.
Looking for a zero-proof scotch replacement—and one that would work with these flavors—was quite difficult. It needed to have the smoky quality, but not taste of chemicals. It also needed the warm notes that you would expect from a whiskey or scotch, but not be too sweet. So when I discovered the For Bitter For Worse Smokey Number 56, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t meant to be a pure replacement for scotch, but it had the dark amber color, the smokey scent and an additional complexity that I thought would lend itself to the drink.
But rather than just mix it with the Trader Joes Ginger Juice Powder or even Fresh Ginger Juice, I thought, how can I get even more complexity and give the drink that abrasive quality that Scotch has? I thought about adding more gut biome helping acid like ACV that could pack a punch and make it even better for you.
While it is easy to create a shrub at home, Elementor has created some awesome flavors that just make it so easy to incorporate into an everyday soda or add complexity to a cocktail. it just so happens that have a flavor profile that could easily replace what is traditionally a ginger infused honey.
If you want to spice it up even more though like me, by all means, get some freshly squeezed ginger juice and add a tablespoon in!
Penicillin No 56
2 1/4 oz For Bitter For Worse Smokey No 56
1/2 packet Trader Joe's 100% Ginger Juice Drink Mix
3/4 oz Element Lime & Ginger Shrub
1 piece candied ginger for garnish
Chill your rocks glass
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker
Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds
Dump the ice from the glass. Put a large cube of ice into the glass. Strain cocktail into the glass. Garnish with candied ginger on a cocktail toothpick.
Note: if you don't have the ginger drink mix, you can use 1 tbs fresh ginger juice to substitute.