The poster-cocktail for modern-era classic creation is the Penicillin by Sam Ross. Clinton Cawood brings the potted history.
Sam Ross has an uncanny ability to create enduring cocktails, with a number of bona fide modern classics to his name.
While his Paper Plane is decidedly modern, perfectly paired with the MIA track it’s named after, the Penicillin, created in the mid-2000s, could have joined the classic cocktail canon decades ago.
A Whiskey Sour at heart, based on that faultless combination of whisky, citrus and sugar, the Penicillin blends scotch and lemon juice with a ginger and honey syrup.
If that doesn’t sound quite comforting and curative enough, the drink is completed with a float of medicinal, peaty Islay single malt.
It has all the hallmarks of a classic – accessible but interesting, easily reproducible, and it most definitely does what it says on the tin.
Despite its quite obvious Whiskey Sour DNA, the Penicillin came about as a twist on a drink from New York institution Milk & Honey, the Gold Rush, a deceptively simple Sour-inspired combination of bourbon, lemon juice and honey.
Ross was working there when he created his riff, substituting scotch and adding ginger and peat. The result soon transcended the bar where it was created, making its way on to cocktail lists around the world.