Created on July 26, 2023

Meet the Penicillin cocktail. This modern classic from the 2000s, birthed in the heart of New York, marries the smokiness of Scotch with the freshness of citrus and the sweet warmth of honey. It's a perfect potion for any Scotch lover out there.

yellow penicillin cocktail in a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and lemon wedge garnish.


  • 2 Ounces Blended Scotch Whisky
  • ¾ Ounce Lemon Juice
  • ¾ Ounce Honey-Ginger Syrup
  • ¼ Ounce Islay Single Malt Scotch (to top)
  • 1 Piece Candied Ginger (garnish)


  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Pour in the Blended Scotch, Lemon Juice, and Honey-Ginger Syrup.
  3. Shake for about 15 seconds, or until well-chilled.
  4. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Top with the Islay Scotch.
  6. Garnish with the candied ginger.
  • Making your own honey-ginger syrup adds a personal touch. Just simmer equal parts honey and water with chopped ginger until well combined.

  • Don't substitute the Islay Scotch, its smoky flavor is key.

  • Try using large ice cubes in your glass. They melt slower, keeping the cocktail undiluted for longer. Learn more about ice in cocktails.

What Does The Penicillin Cocktail Taste Like?

The Penicillin offers a delightful balance of smoky, sweet, and tart. The Scotch lends a smoky touch, while the honey-ginger syrup and lemon juice bring sweetness and zest, all playing harmoniously on your palate.

Penicillin Cocktail Ingredients

The Penicillin is a mixture of Scotch, lemon juice, and honey-ginger syrup.

Best Blended Scotch for a Penicillin

For the Penicillin, a medium-bodied Blended Scotch works best, adding richness without overpowering. Try Johnnie Walker Black Label for its perfect balance of smoky and sweet.

Best Islay Scotch for a Penicillin

For the topping, go for an Islay Scotch like Laphroaig 10, whose smoky peatiness amplifies the cocktail's complexity.

Penicillin Cocktail History

The Penicillin is a millennial baby, conceived in 2005 at the New York bar Milk & Honey by bartender Sam Ross. A riff on the classic Whisky Sour, it's come a long way and is now a beloved part of the modern cocktail canon, found in bars worldwide.

Its winning blend of Scotch, honey, ginger, and lemon make it a perennial favorite among whiskey enthusiasts.