While no cocktail can cure the common cold, a decent one may bring some small measure of relief to sore throats, muscle pain, congestion, sleeplessness and related symptoms. My usual curative is the hot toddy — a cocktail of Scotch, hot water and honey.
The exact history of this Scottish potion is unknown, but it has been enjoyed for centuries. Here is my preferred version:
Use a good Highland single malt Scotch whisky. The Dalmore 12 or Macallan 12 are great here, though any non-peaty, non-smoky Highland Scotch malt whisky will work fine.
2 ounces Highland Scotch whisky
1 to 3 ounces boiling water
½ ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey (or brown sugar)
3 drops Angostura bitters
1 slice lemon, studded with cloves
A sprinkle of ground nutmeg
Into a heatproof glass or large coffee mug, put the sugar, bitters, lemon juice and clove-studded lemon slice. Add the whisky, pour in one third of the boiling water and stir gently until the honey or sugar dissolves.
Add more boiling water to bring it back up to temperature, and fill your cup to the desired level. Dust lightly with nutmeg and sip. It is delicious, and should help you feel better.
On to the stronger “medicine.” The Penicillin — a smoky, spicy mix of Scotch, honey and ginger — is widely considered a modern classic cocktail.
While basically a spicy and smoky twist on a whiskey sour, the Penicillin is a wonderfully complex concoction. It was created in New York in 2005 by the Australian bartender Sam Ross.
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 alcohol would help make this seem like a good “cure all” concoction.
Here is my version:
First, however, one needs to prepare the honey-ginger syrup. Here are some options.Alternative 1: Combine 1 cup of honey with one 6-inch peeled and sliced piece of ginger root with 1 cup of water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Refrigerate overnight, then strain, discarding the solids.
Alternative 2: Muddle 2-3 healthy quarter-size slices of fresh ginger in the bottom of your cocktail shaker before starting to make your cocktail.
Alternative 3: Use a ginger liqueur and add 3 bar spoons of a 3:1 mix of
2 ounces blended Scotch, such as Famous Grouse
¾ ounce honey-ginger syrup
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce Islay single-malt Scotch,
preferably Laphroaig 10 year old
Garnish: fresh or candied ginger for garnish
Combine the blended Scotch with the honey-ginger syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Top with the Islay Scotch and garnish with fresh or candied ginger. L’chaim!
Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at [email protected].