Shake Up and Drink Down: the Japanese Penicillin from Zuma in New York City

The modern classic cocktail with a twist is what to sip on a crisp fall evening

The Japanese Penicillin.

Created by bartender Sam Ross at the famous Milk & Honey in New York City in 2005, the Penicillin cocktail proliferated on bar menus around the world and was dubbed an instant classic by bartenders and patrons alike. The relatively straightforward recipe has inspired a few satisfying twists on the original, such as the Japanese Penicillin mixed at Zuma New York.

Dubai-based Jimmy Barrat has been Zuma’s global bar development director for over ten years, and he often uses a worldly approach in his craft. His version of the Penicillin uses yuzu juice as a sour component, as well as a Japanese coffee grain whisky to deepen the savory flavor even further. The real kick is the final ingredient: smoke from a Macallan sherry cask, which the bartender draws into the glass before setting the drink in front of you. As Barat explains, this show-stopping move “gently elevates the smoky note of the drink – we are literally burning a piece of history.”

While getting your hands on Macallan sherry cask wood proves quite difficult (read: LOL good luck!), the Japanese Penicillin goes down quite nicely without the fiery final touch. If you can, substitute it by sitting yourself in front of a crackling fireplace on a fall afternoon, as the cocktail’s spicy complexity perfectly complements the season of turning leaves and lengthening darkness.


Japanese Penicillin
50ml Nikka Coffee Grain Whisky
15ml Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky
15ml ginger syrup
15ml honey water
15ml yuzu juice
15ml egg white

Plum bitter