Rx Recipes: “The Howell”

Our 125th Anniversary Signature Cocktail honors Edward Vernon Howell, the School’s first Dean

Recipe by Jimmy Rosen | Photo by Jafar Fallahi | Published October 11, 2022

Our Rx Recipes series explores recipes provided by faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. For this inaugural entry to the series, we present the recipe for “The Howell,” our signature cocktail from our 125th Anniversary Celebration.

The Howell is a distinctive cocktail designed to honor Dean Vernon Howell, “the most distinct personality Chapel Hill has ever known,” and to recognize the importance of herbs, spices and other natural ingredients in the history of pharmaceutical sciences.

Batch recipe for ~12 mixed drinks
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey (preferably local)
1 oz. (by weight) fresh ginger grated or minced
0.5 oz (by weight) fresh thyme, reserve 12 sprigs for garnish
2 dried clove buds
2 pods from dried star anise (break 2 pods off a star) (Star anise is optional.)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (zest lemons to make garnish prior to juicing – see below)
Straight Kentucky Bourbon (1 shot per drink)
Soda water
Lemon bitters
Candied ginger for garnish
Lemon zest strips for garnish

To make the honey syrup:

  1. Combine water, honey, fresh ginger, thyme (other than the 12 reserved for garnish), cloves and star anise pods in a small pot. Heat gently on low (do not boil) for 30 minutes to melt the honey and steep the mixture. It should be very fragrant. Remove from heat.
  2. Strain the mixture through a very fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.
  3. Add the fresh lemon juice to the honey mixture.
  4. Cool the liquid syrup in an ice bath.
  5. Cooled syrup can be used immediately and/or stored refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

To prep garnish:

  1. Make strips of lemon zest – note, zest the lemons that will be used for the juice, but prior to squeezing them for the syrup.
  2. Add thyme sprigs reserved above
  3. Depending on the size of the ginger candy, cut into cubes that can be put on a toothpick for garnish.
  4. For each drink, spear a piece of ginger candy and a strip of lemon zest. Can be prepped in advance.

To mix the drink:

  1. 8 oz. rocks glass with ice
  2. 1 shot (1 or 1.5 oz) bourbon
  3. 1 shot (1 or 1.5 oz) honey syrup
  4. Dash of lemon bitters
  5. Splash of soda
  6. Stir gently
  7. Garnish with thyme sprig and spear of lemon zest and ginger candy as described above

This recipe was developed by Jimmy Rosen, the inaugural CEO of the Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative (READDI), a global public-private partnership launched by the Eshelman Institute for Innovation that brings together the world’s best scientific and business minds to proactively develop novel antiviral drugs before the next pandemic.

Jimmy’s past experience spans an array of sectors from biotech, philanthropy and venture capital to working in cancer research, on Wall Street, and as an ambulance medic. Yet his cocktail creation brings him back to his roots working in food. Jimmy started cooking professionally at the age of 16 at the 21 Club in New York City, subsequently working at a southwestern restaurant in Colorado and serving as sous chef at Pop’s in Durham.