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The Famous Penicillin

Two scotch expressions from The Famous Grouse—one smooth and elegant, one bold and smoky—make up the split base in this riff on the iconic cocktail.


By Courtesy of The Famous Grouse

Published on November 8, 2022

The classic Penicillin cocktail is a “split-base” whisky drink originally created by New York City bartender Sam Ross in 2005. This version of the iconic drink features two expressions from The Famous Grouse: the smooth and elegant classic style and the brand’s bold Smoky Black bottling. While typically served chilled, we also love a warming winter riff of The Famous Penicillin. Find the alternative method below.


For the honey-ginger syrup:

  • 1 cup honey
  • One 4-in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

For the cocktail:

  • 2 oz. The Famous Grouse Whisky
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. honey-ginger syrup
  • ¼ oz. The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Whisky
  • Candied ginger, for garnish


Step 1

Make the honey-ginger syrup: To a small pot, add the honey, ginger, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the honey is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. Set a fine mesh strainer over a jar or liquid measuring cup and strain the syrup, pressing on the ginger to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use; honey-ginger syrup keeps well in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Step 2

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add The Famous Grouse, lemon juice, and ¾ ounce of the reserved honey-ginger syrup. Shake well, then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Hold a bar spoon upside down over the cocktail with the edge of the spoon touching the inner surface of the glass, just above the liquid. Gently pour The Famous Grouse Smoky Black over the back of the spoon so that it floats at the top of the drink. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger and serve immediately.

Step 3

Optional warm alternative: To a mug, add the lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup, and 4 ounces of hot water. Stir in The Famous Grouse, then gently pour The Famous Grouse Smoky Black over the back of the spoon so that it floats at the top of the drink. Garnish with the piece of candied ginger. Serve warm.

The Famous Grouse is available to purchase from Caskers, Drizly, Reserve Bar, and select retailers nationwide.

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