Three British pennies won’t buy much tea these days, but it might have been enough for a spot in Victorian England. Thomas Cumming’s new creation, the “Three Penny Box”, features three vintage British pennies on the top and a puzzling secret hidden in plain sight. It’s an homage to the classic “Three Penny Opera” whose infamous anti-hero “Mack the Knife” is immortalized in the well known song. Here’s a lovely penny cocktail to toast the Three Penny Box I discovered recently at one of Houston’s fine establishments, Weights + Measures. The “Penny Royal Tea”, created by Seth Cunningham and Nicole Meza, is a tasty tipple featuring an Earl Grey tea syrup and the trendy new Italian liqueur Italicus. Tea syrup is an incredibly tasty way to add unique sweetness to any drink, and works so well in this one. Italicus is technically a rosolio, an Italian aperitivo wine made from rose petals dating to the 15th century and considered at one time to be the “drink of kings”. This version was brought to life by Guiseppe Gallo using a family recipe from the 1800s which highlights prominent bergamot and cedro flavors steeped with many other botanicals. The result is a bright citrus burst of sweetness begging to be added to prosecco, gin, or delicious cocktails like this one. I’m mixing one up for Jenny Driver, Sukey Tawdry, Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown. If you’d like one too, well that line forms on the right, babe. Cheers!


Penny Royal Tea by Seth Cunningham and Nicole Meza

1 oz gin

½ oz Italicus

¼ oz orange liqueur (e.g. Gran Gala)

¼ oz Elderflower liqueur (e.g. St. Germain)

¼ oz lemon

½ oz vanilla syrup

¼ oz Earl Grey syrup

1 egg white

Shake ingredients vigorously without ice then briefly with ice. Strain into a favorite glass.


For more about the operatic Three Penny Box see:

Boxes and Booze: A Night at the Opera