The Spirits #94: The Penicillin
~ Practically Lemsip ~ Winter of 1,000 Bugs ~ If your limbs begin dissolving ~ The Slow Readers Group ~ Flavedo ~
~ THE PENICILLIN ~
A thumb of fresh ginger
50ml blended Scotch
10ml Islay scotch (e.g. Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin)
20ml lemon juice
20ml honey, loosened with a little hot water
Slice the ginger into little coins and place these in the bottom of your shaker. Add the Scotch and muddle awhile. Now add everything else. Fill the shaker with cubes (of ice, I hasten to add) and give it the old up-and-down. Strain the mixture into an old fashioned glass featuring one large ice cube. And garnish with ginger (candied?), a section of lemon flavedo (see below), or some fancy combination of the two.
Some Penicillin notes:
1. This is a recipe from the US-based Australian bartender, Sam Ross, (who also came up with the Paper Plane). It is “the most well-travelled and renowned new cocktail of the 21st century,” says noted authority Robert Simonson. It’s called Penicillin as the honey-lemon-ginger combination is more familiar from medicinal contexts though I believe most GPS would advise against using penicillin for the common cold.
2. I have made no secret of the fact that I have lost my taste for alcohol of late; partly as a result of the attritional effects of this Winter of 1,000 Bugs. However, this one really did hit the spot. Perhaps because Lemsip has corrupted my palate.
3. The original version calls for a proprietary ginger-infused honey syrup; other recipes demand expensive ginger liqueurs. However my way requires less prep, while making the drink super-zingy. (Another approach: invest in Belvoir’s Ginger Cordial and use 10ml of that, 10ml of honey).
4. Don’t sweat the Islay single malt if you have none (it’s a decent enough sour without) but if you do happen to have a bottle, you’re in for a treat. That little smoky tear gives the drink a damp bonfire note that warms you all the more.
5. I learned eight outstanding new words today. Flavedo refers to the outer rind of citrus fruits, i.e., the zesty part that you use for garnishes. Generically, the outer skin of fruits is known as the exocarp. The white pith is known as the albedo and is part of the mesocarp. Within the endocarp (the inner section) you will find locules (aka carpels, aka segments). And the tiny capsules of juice within are vesticles - a useful rhyme if you happen to be composing a sonnet about testicles.
🖊️I am Richard Godwin.
🧋My instructions for sugar syrup, ice, grenadine, orgeat, etc are here.
🧑🏫 My 10 RULES FOR MAKING COCKTAILS are here.
⚗️ My bottle recommendations are here.
📃 The full A-Z recipe archive is here.
➡️ Please find a round up of organisations helping Ukrainians here.
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I realised I had been listening to fair few Scottish bands of late so thought I’d lean into that right here. Includes the only song where bagpipes are welcome.
NB: I update this playlist weekly (or thereabouts). It’s supposed to be a human-curated, interestingly-themed, aperitif-friendly version of the ‘Discover Weekly’ feature, something you can always like, save, and return to for fresh new music. An archive of all past lists (now pushing 1,000 songs) is here.
DISCLAIMER: I make all reasonable efforts to keep this music upbeat but this is not always possible given my temperament and the times.
WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING
A belated Aperol post for Cabinet subscribers.
I went to Max Richter’s new studio in rural Oxfordshire to talk sleep. This was a real treat. (ES Magazine)
I interviewed the popstar Ellie Goulding about climate anxiety, common or garden anxiety, motherhood, social media, and her new album. Her life seemed to me extremely stressful. (You Magazine)
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING
Coleridge: Early Visions, Richard Holmes’s biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is as wonderful as everyone says. I’ve long been conscious of not knowing much about English poetry or Romanticism or, really, anything. But this truly brings the times and the personalities alive. I feel Coleridge is one of my extended circle, someone who I now want to consult on rewilding and Generative AI and the cost of childcare and all sorts of matters. I mean: this relates quite well to one current dilemma in particular:
One further thought. Since dialling down on social media, I have been pushing against my own media-ish tendency to skate widely over a vast array of subjects without really going deep on any of them. Clearly, this isn’t simply my tendency; it’s a product of internet-era intelligence, a time when we can Google everything and thus give a passable impression of being better informed than we actually are. I feel it’s made its way into publishing too. A lot of non-fiction books that are published nowadays (the models are Sapiens and Tipping Point) do something similar. I mean they take a huge sweep of history as their subject; or a concept that if properly understood explains everything that is wrong with the world; something that synthesises lots of disparate things and makes you go “PING!”
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. In fact, it was two books in this vein (Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus and Richard Fisher’s The Long View) that prompted these reflections. But I find myself increasingly suspicious of this instrumental form of reading. I crave something more immersive; the sort of imaginative contact that doesn’t necessarily give rise to pithy tweets or zesty op-eds or neat theories, but rather brings you into deep imaginative contact with a person and their ideas. And so, with Coleridge, I’ve been attempting to do go deeper - actually reading the Rime of the Ancient Mariner when I come to the part about its composition; listening to the In Our Time about it; listening to Richard Burton declaim it; reading it again, etc. I suppose you could call this Slow Reading. (I… am… in… the… slow…. readers…. group). Not only has the poetry made sense in a way it never has before; slow reading has also greatly increased my appreciation of Bristol and the West Country, of walking, of childcare, of frosts at midnight and the first breaths of spring, and the intrinsic pleasures of ideas and connection.
Oh! I also read the graphic novel In by Will McPhail, whose cartoons you may have seen in the New Yorker (or on his very funny Instagram). I pulled it off the shelf out of curiosity, read the first panel, then the second, and before I knew it had read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s a marvel; McPhail is a marvel, actually. The subject (21st century urban solipsism) isn’t so original and nor as certain veins of humour (there’s lots of commentary on hipster coffee trends, Aperol Spritzes, etc) but it is just so beautifully observed and so funny in its particulars, it transcends all this. Highly recommend!
Fiquei encantado ao conhecer esta newsletter, Meus Discos, Meus Drinks e Nada Mais, do Substacker brasileiro, Bruno Capelas. Está muito no espírito do The Spirits; meus seguidores lusófonos vão gostar, tenho certeza. E com certeza me deu vontade de fazer uma caipirinha.
Gin, Angostura bitters.
Ha! That last paragraph was a surprise! Obrigado pela sugestão, Richard!!
The Penicillin is one of my favorite drinks of all time. One of my local bars puts the Islay in an atomizer and hits the drink once it’s in the glass. Such a solid drink!