The Story Behind The Ray of Sunshine

Sam Ross created the Penicillin cocktail in the mid-2000s during his tenure at New York’s pioneering cocktail bar Milk & Honey, which closed in 2014. The drink is a whiskey-based sour cocktail that is now a modern classic. Its template of blended and single-malt Scotch, paired with the complementary combination of citrus, honey, and ginger, is one that has seen many riffs and iterations over the decades. The Penicillin itself is a riff on the classic Gold Rush cocktail — a mix of bourbon, honey syrup, and lemon juice.

The Ray of Sunshine employs a split base of aged rum (Barbados and Jamaica work best) for some tropical fruit flavors, and a balanced whiskey (bourbon or blended Scotch will suffice). Add in some lemon juice, ginger syrup, and finish with soda water to steer it into the Collins category. It’s simple to make, yet it yields a complex flavor and texture, making it all the more appealing.


  • 1 ounce aged rum
  • 1 ounce whiskey (bourbon or Scotch)
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce ginger syrup (recipe follows)
  • Topped with soda water


  1. Combine all ingredients (except soda water) in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled.
  2. Strain over ice into a Highball or Collins glass. Top with soda water, and garnish with an expressed lemon peel.

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Updated: 2020-10-28

Ginger syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups unpeeled, washed, fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water

Ginger syrup Directions

  1. Blend the ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped.
  2. Place in a large pot on medium heat with the sugar and water and stir.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 1 hour until a rich syrup is created.
  4. Strain the syrup twice through cheesecloth or a sieve into a large bottle and refrigerate.
The Ray of Sunshine Recipe