The potential of penicillin as a drug was accidentally discovered in 1928 by British bacteriologist Alexander Fleming, at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, when he noticed that bacteria were not growing around the mold on a plaque. agar. Penicillin the cocktail was created on a whim in the early years by Australian bartender Sam Ross, at famed Milk & Honey in New York City, when he decided to get creative with a cargo of The peat monster, a blended Scottish whiskey from Compass Box.
The cocktail he created was a play on the Gold Rush, a popular new bourbon cocktail (also invented at Milk & Honey) made with honey syrup and fresh lemon juice – essentially a Whiskey Sour with honey. instead of a simple syrup. Ross added some ginger syrup to the honey and poured a float of the smoky peat monster on top and called it penicillin. No need to cover your nose to get the medicine down: the peat smoke was an incentive to soak up, and the honey served as a spoonful of sugar.
Unsurprisingly, Ross’ cure for all ailments is seeing a comeback in the era of the pandemic. Just a few weeks ago, while in New York for the US Open, I had a Tokyo Penicillin at The Attic, an oyster and cocktail bar in Flushing Queens, which used Japanese whiskey instead. scotch whiskey. Earlier this week at a Benriach whiskey tasting and Scottish inspired food pairings at Petra & the Beast, I got an even better – and much more complex – variation by Iluggy Recinos, the beverage manager for local watering holes like Paradiso, Tejas and Mermaid. Recinos, from Los Angeles, worked with Ross and cited him as the inspiration for what he dubbed the Ross on Haskell.
“Samuell Ross was the creator of the original penicillin cocktail because we were celebrating National Penicillin Allergy DaySays Recinos, referring to the annual September 28 holiday on Fleming’s birthday that encourages people to get tested for penicillin allergy. “Sam set the bar high with this drink, so I wanted to add layers while keeping its originality while amplifying each ingredient. I’m a huge fan of working with teas in my cocktail – they add real layers of flavor to any style of cocktail you’re trying to achieve. I’m a huge fan of Chinese and Thai food – especially spicy food – so adding this love of flavors to the cocktail really worked in terms of harmony and balance. Thank you Sam Ross for donating the penicillin! The cocktail is a real gem, and so is he.
The cocktail from Recinos benefits from both the Benriach’s Original Ten – which contains traces of smoke but lots of notes of honey, ripe pear and vanilla – and the Smoky Ten from Speyside scotch – which tastes like drinking the original. while being comfortably seated in a woolen plaid wing chair in front of an apple wood and flamboyant oak fire. It also adds local notes, with Culture Cup tea infusions, local honey and a sprig of fresh lemon balm from Chef Misti Norris’ garden. Because the complexity of the Ross on Haskell can be intimidating, I’ve included a simpler version. Let’s start there.
Keep it simple with Benriach’s signature penicillin. If you’re ordering Cheeky’s or some other pre-made honey-ginger syrup, the hardest thing you’ll have to do is squeeze the lemon.
2 ounces of Benriach The Original Ten
3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce honey-ginger syrup
1/4 ounce Benriach The Smoky Ten
Combine The Original Ten, lemon juice and honey-ginger syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Filter into a highball glass over ice. Complete with The Smoky Ten. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger.
The Ross on Haskell
Work your cocktail muscles with Iluggy Recinos’ elaborate, layered version of Ross’s classic cocktail. The results will be worth it.
Recinos extracts the ginger, filters the pulp and weighs the final product. In an immersion blender, he adds an equal amount of evaporated cane sugar to the ginger juice and a quarter amount of ground turmeric and mixtures.
He brings two cups of honey to a boil to burn it a bit, then adds a cup of water, stirring to dissolve the honey. He then adds 4 medium sized pieces of lemongrass, a teaspoon of pink berries, the zest of a medium lemon and a pinch of kosher salt. Pour into a jar and let steep for about 10 hours, then strain the solids.
Citrus infused Benriach Original Ten:
Peel the citrus peel from 1 grapefruit, 4 tangerines, 2 oranges and 3 blood oranges with minimal pith, and infuse them with a bottle of Benriach Original Ten for 24 hours.
Benriach Smoky Ten infused with tea:
Brews 3 tablespoons of The Cultured Cup’s Russian caravan tea in 20 ounces of Benriach Smoky Ten and let sit for about 15 hours. Pour into a food-safe Spritzer bottle.
To make the cocktail:
1/2 ounce of ginger and turmeric syrup
1/2 ounce of lemon grass syrup and honey
3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice
2 oz Benriach Original Ten infused with citrus fruits
Benriach Smoky Ten tea infused mist
Sprig of fresh lemon balm
Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice; shake gently and not too long. Double filter over ice in an Old-Fashioned double glass. Garnish with lemon balm sprigs and mist to taste with tea infused Benriach Smoky Ten.