They speak of my drinking, but never think of my thirst – Scottish proverb
I love scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly… – Ron Burgundy
Ron Burgundy and I share a common love for Scotch. It’s glorious. I am currently building a case – amassing means of justification – to rationalize to my wife that it would not be unreasonable to purchase a bottle of Glenfarclas 40 Year Old Single Malt. At present, on a scale of 1 to 10, her approval rating on this matter is a dismal 1. Maybe 2 if I catch her on a good day. Attrition is the key. I am a persistent man. I am a patient man. It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.
Now, Scotch in a cocktail is a different matter – a notoriously difficult ingredient to coerce into playing well with others, only a handful of cocktails have been successful in its implementation. The Cameron’s Kick is one of those few, those happy few, those band of cocktails that tame Scotch’s assertive personality. Looking at the seemingly disparate ingredients list of the Cameron’s Kick – blended Scotch, Irish whiskey, lemon juice, almond syrup – and one cannot be blamed for being a bit skeptical. Seattle-based cocktail enthusiast and writer, Paul Clarke articulates this well:
“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.”
The Cameron’s Kick made its debut in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book in the foul year of our Lord, nineteen and thirty. 1930 was a good year: Twinkies were invented, Gandhi was fighting for independence, Mickey Mouse was created, and America was in the depths of Depression. Well, it was an interesting year, anyway. No explanation with respect to the origin of the name of this cocktail was provided by Mr. Craddock. Who the shit was Cameron? Was it he who was doing the kicking? Or was he ejected from a bar for getting too drunk and rowdy? Maybe he got some sort of perverse kick out of combining implausible, incongruent ingredients? Jim Meehan opines that there should be a law against creating great drinks with provocative titles and not including a story. Alas, the tale of Cameron’s Kick seems to have been lost in the sands of time. Up and vanished like a fart in the wind…
No matter, here’s the drink:
- 1 oz. Great King Street Artist’s Blend Blended Scotch Whisky
- 1 oz. Redbreast Single Pot Still 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
- ¾ oz. lemon juice
- ½ oz. Kevin Liu’s Simply Awesome Orgeat
Add the whole shebang to a shaker. With regards to the lemon juice, I like to squeeze and strain simultaneously so that I get pulp-free juice at the specified quantity. A bit OCD, I realize. Add a pile of ice and shake the crivvens out of it until properly chilled (about 12 seconds or so). Double strain (to expel ice shards) into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.
A blended Scotch is the ticket for making this work. A single malt (especially something from Islay) will throw everything out of balance – too much peat, too much iodine. Famous Grouse is great value. Black Grouse is even better, but perhaps not suited to this drink. I went with Compass Box’s Great King Street to see how it would fair. It’s what some would classify as a “light” whisky, so I thought I’d test how it would stand up to the other components in the drink.
As for the orgeat, I made mine at home using Kevin Liu’s blasphemously easy orgeat recipe: combine at room temperature 184 grams of Pacific Unsweetened Almond Milk (~8 fl.oz.), 88 grams of cane sugar (~7 tablespoons), ⅛ teaspoon of almond extract, and 4 drops of orange blossom water. That’s it. And it’s delicious. Very similar in taste to the offerings by B.G. Reynolds and Small Hand Foods, which is high praise, indeed.
This cocktail is alarmingly good. The ostensible incompatibility of the ingredients is a fallacy. By some work of black magic, an astounding level of balance is achieved. The intermingling complexities of the Scottish and Irish whiskies are accompanied by a rich nuttiness that is quickly checked by sour lemon. The finish is creamy and nutty, with some nice mild vanilla maltiness. Wonderful.
Now just imagine this drink with Glenfarclas 40 yo…