I’ve long been a fan of the split-base cocktail. That old favorite the Between the Sheets is essentially a rum/brandy Sidecar, to be sure. The Long Island Iced Tea, when it’s done right, is little more than a Collins with multiple spirits in place of just gin. And yeah, even the Vieux Carré, one of my least favorite Cognac cocktails out there is made all the better with the addition of rye whiskey. So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows my taste in cocktails that one of my favorite back-pocket sours is the Cameron’s Kick.
I first came across this odd little drink in the Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930. There’s no mention of the creator, nor the inspiration, though this sort of situation just smacks of a) a bartender running out of a particular base spirit halfway through the drink and reaching for something similar, or b) a bartender trying to tame the bold flavor of a base spirit with an equal measure of something similar, yet much milder. See, the Cameron’s Kick calls for both Scotch and Irish whiskies. And as a rule, Scotch whisky is much bolder and flavorful than Irish whiskey.
As a rule, it’s tough to mix Irish whiskey, and damn near impossible to make cocktails with Scotch whisky. Yeah, there are notable exceptions to both (see the Irish Coffee, Tipperary, Penicillin, and Rob Roy, for starters) but in general they can be too feisty to play nicely with other flavors. But as so many things in life, the drink is more than the sum of its parts, and it works beautifully with fresh, tart lemon juice and orgeat, which, surprisingly, is an almond syrup one might never think to pair with Scotch whisky. Not I, anyway.
But at it’s heart, the Cameron’s Kick is nothing more than a dressed up Whiskey Sour, with some orgeat in place of plain old simple syrup, and two kinds of European whiskies to give it something more of a, pardon the language, kick.
• 1 oz. blended Irish whiskey (try Power’s if you can find it)
• 1 oz. blended Scotch whiskey (this is a great time to pick up a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label, one of my all-time favorites)
• ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
• ½ oz. orgeat (almond syrup—look for Gifford or Monin if you can find them)
Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
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