Panacea with a Punch | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Panacea with a Punch

Drinks that will cure what ails you

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The colder weather is as great an excuse as any for shifting your cocktail repertoire a little, easing into more soothing and curative concoctions. While no cocktail can cure the common cold or heal an aching body, a decent potation may bring some small measure of relief to sore throats, muscle pain, congestion, sleeplessness, and related symptoms. My usual curative tipple is, of course, the Hot Toddy, a lovely curative cocktail of Scotch, hot water, and honey. I recently tasted a slight variation on the Penicillin Cocktail, and while it wasn’t bad, it made me turn back to the original and I’ve fallen in love with it all over again. The Penicillin cocktail, along with the Toddy, are my two favorite curative mixed drinks of the season.

First, the Hot Toddy—the exact history of this Scottish potion is unknown, but it has been enjoyed for centuries. Here is my preferred version:

Hot Toddy

On to the stronger “medicine.” For those not familiar, the Penicillin—a smoky, spicy mix of Scotch, honey and ginger—is widely considered a modern classic cocktail. Why classic, well it has travelled far and wide—as well as overseas—in essentially the same form; it is relatively easy to produce; it has a more or less widespread positive reputation amongst cocktail professionals and booze writers, and it has already had its bar mitzvah, so to speak, without any signs of burning out in popularity.

The Penicillin is also delicious.

While basically just a spicy and smoky twist on a Whisky Sour, the Penicillin is a wonderfully complex concoction. It was created in New York in 2005 by the Australian bartender Sam Ross; he was only 22 years old at the time. After honing his bartending skills in Melbourne, Ross immigrated to New York and became something of a legend slogging drinks behind the stick at such hallowed cocktail venues as Milk & Honey, Little Branch, Pegu Club, and now at Attaboy. Penicillin was one of his enduring M & H creations.

Ross has always said that the name was inspired by chicken noodle soup, aka “Jewish Penicillin.” The idea being that ginger root, a widely used home-remedy ingredient for treating common colds, with the added boost of hooch, would help make this seem like a good cure-all type concoction.

Here is my version:

Penicillin Cocktail

L'Chaim!

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