Penicillin, the Perfect Cocktail for These Trying Times

If you’re stuck inside (and you probably should be), right now is the perfect time to drink a hybrid of alcohol and classic throat-soothers

Want a cocktail veganized? Bought a bottle of something and don’t know what to do with it? Need a cool mocktail? Want to make your own liqueur? We’ll drink to that. Bartenderly is here to make all your vegan drinking dreams come true. If you want to check on whether a specific brand of alcohol is vegan, I recommend Barnivore.

These are strange and troubling times — a statement which has always been true, but in this instance I’m referring to the rise of coronavirus worldwide. If you’re going to self-medicate, you might as well have fun in the process, and so I declare it’s now the Penicillin cocktail’s time to shine. This may sound glib — and I’m all for the welcome distraction of humour — but you could do worse than this modern classic by New York bartender Sam Ross, which combines the healing properties of fresh ginger, honey and lemon juice with fortifying scotch. The lemon juice will jolt you full of vitamin C and ginger is a stellar anti-inflammatory. My vegan adaptation leaves out the honey and replaces it with maple syrup — the smoky, woody sweetness of the maple echoes the flavor of the whisky while providing an impressive quantity of nutrients, in particular zinc and manganese. Truly the cocktail we deserve right now!

The 2020 Penicillin

  • 1½ ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 1-inch fresh ginger root, roughly chopped
  • 1 ounce maple syrup, or to taste
  • 2 ounces blended scotch
  • ¼ ounce Islay single malt whisky
  • Slice of fresh ginger root and lemon zest, to serve
  1. Place the lemon juice, ginger root, and maple syrup into the base of a cocktail shaker glass. Stir to dissolve the maple syrup, and then muddle the ginger using the end of a spoon, a wooden muddler, or similar implement. This simply involves pressing down on the ginger to extract its flavor and liquid.
  2. Add the blended scotch and plenty of fresh ice. Fix the other half of the shaker on top and shake very hard for about ten seconds.
  3. Strain the liquid through a small sieve into a tumbler filled with fresh ice. Carefully pour the Islay single malt over the top of the liquid as a float, and garnish with the ginger and lemon zest.


  • If your budget or accessibility doesn’t extend to two different kinds of whisky, you can still make this without the float — I would recommend using a whisky like Isle of Skye, a lovely mid-range blended scotch which brings some of that peaty single malt flavor.
  • Always taste before pouring the cocktail into your glass — you may wish to add more lemon to sharpen, or more maple to sweeten, trust your tastebuds either way.
  • For those of you who don’t consume alcohol, you could try a mocktail version by replacing the scotch with clear apple juice.

Food blogger and author from New Zealand. Writing at; Twitter at @hungryandfrozen; and exclusive stuff at

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