Last Friday I was on the prowl for a buzz (as I often am) and I made my way to my local bar, the place I usually go when I've got a little too much blood in my beer stream. The place was crowded and I didn't feel like making a decision, so I just ordered the beer on the top left corner of their chalkboard menu. That beer, The Concoction from Brooklyn Brewery's Brewmaster's Reserve series, led me down an interesting path.
The beer was delicious. If you haven't had it, The Concoction is brewed with peat smoked malt, minced ginger, lemon juice and wildflower honey, giving it a very distinctive flavor. I liked it better with each sip, and apparently that showed on my face since the bartender came over and asked if I'd had the cocktail the beer was inspired by.
He went on to tell me that the beer was based on a cocktail called the Penicillin, one I'd heard of but never tried. The beer was actually slated to be called Penicillin but Uncle Sam had some words about that so they had to change it. I told him I'd never tried it and ordered the cocktail...for research purposes of course.
Here's the recipe I found online that's closest to what he made for me, via Cocktail Chronicles:
2 ounces blended scotch (I used Famous Grouse)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce ginger-honey syrup*
1/4 ounce Islay scotch (I used Laphroaig)
Combine blended scotch, lemon juice and syrup in a shaker, fill with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and float Islay scotch on top.
For ginger-honey syrup (my recipe; chime in if you use something different): combine 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until well combined. Add an ounce or so of peeled, sliced fresh ginger and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely; strain.
The version I had substituted the ginger-honey syrup with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, and it was delicious. Smoky, peaty, tart, with a little bit of heat from the ginger. Of course, the danger there was that I had to try the beer again...to see how close they got. Rinse and repeat that a few times, and there you have my Friday night. One thing I'll say...I was wishing penicillin was a cure for headaches the next morning, but it was all worth it.