Big, bad scotch doesn’t play well with others, which is why you seldom see it as the base liquor in a cocktail. Its assertive smoke and peat can obliterate subtler flavors, which makes the scotch-based Penicillin, beautifully presented with a disk of brûléed ginger at The Hidden House, such a revelation. Invented in 2005 by mixologist Sam Ross at New York’s avant-garde cocktail bar Milk & Honey, it’s a riff on the bourbon-based Gold Rush, marrying earthy scotch with fresh lemon juice, silky honey and peppery ginger for a smoky, sweet and perfectly balanced concoction that cures all ills.
If you appreciate smoky spirits such as mezcal, but haven’t made the leap to scotch, the Penicillin is a splendid gateway, and you don’t have to be a bacteriologist to make it. In a shaker with ice, add 2 oz. Bank Note Peated Scotch Whisky (or any blended scotch), 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, ½ oz. honey syrup* and ½ oz. ginger syrup**.
Shake and strain over fresh ice into a double rocks glass, rinsed with smoky, medicinal Laphroaig (a single malt scotch). Garnish with fresh, lightly torched ginger.
* Add 1 part warm water to 2 parts honey. Shake or stir until even.
** Bring equal parts sugar and water to a rolling boil and add sliced ginger root. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
The Hidden House
159 W. Commonwealth Ave., Chandler