Remember the old saw about how, if you took a million monkeys and gave them each a typewriter, they’d eventually come up with the works of Shakespeare? Well edit “typewriter” to read “cocktail shaker,” and stick the monkeys in a well-stocked bar, and the banana-addled mixologists would come up with a Cameron’s Kick in about the same amount of time it’d take that set of simian scribes to work their way around to Titus Andronicus.
Along with other head-scratchers such as the Blood & Sand, the Floridita and the Last Word, the Cameron’s Kick has a distinctive air of the implausible about it. With two (related, though still very different) base spirits in equal measure matched with lemon juice and — of all things — orgeat in the sweetness role, the Cameron’s Kick seems like something that no bartender would ever intentionally put together, and it’s a mix that, for all reasonable purposes, just —shouldn’t — WORK. But somehow, it does.
This cocktail first pops up (to the best of my knowledge) in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930. Craddock doesn’t list the bartender behind the Cameron’s Kick (or the basis for the weird name), so it’s left to us to wonder if the creator was blessed with divine inspiration, or was maybe just tossing stuff together like a bunch of monkeys trashing a bar. I’d come across the recipe a number of times while browsing the book, and kept ignoring it, put off by the use of two spirits in the base — two notoriously difficult-to-mix-with spirits, at that — and the funky-sounding recipe. Chances are, I’d still be neglecting this drink if David Wondrich hadn’t resuscitated it for Killer Cocktails, and served it to the assembled guests (myself included) during the Spirited Dinner he hosted at the most recent Tales of the Cocktail. Wondrich uses Craddock’s recipe, with the addition of a piece of orange peel for garnish. It’s a nice touch, and lends a hint of freshness to this long-forgotten drink that deserves to be discovered all over again.
- 1 ounce Scotch (blended, please — Famous Grouse works well)
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce orgeat
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.
Of course, not everything with the Cameron’s Kick can be as easy as it looks — search for the recipe on cocktaildb.com or any of a number of other web sites, and you’ll find a similar though very different recipe, one that uses the Scotch and Irish base (in different proportions), but then swaps the orgeat for orange bitters. In a word, no.