Scotch and Irish—Cameron’s Kick

I suspect that every spirit ever made has been tried in cocktails. Some—vodka and gin come to mind—are naturals, blending readily with lots of other flavors. Rum and American whiskies do quite nicely, too.

And then there are the Scotch and Irish whiskies.

Assertive, dry, often smoky, Scotch and Irish are notoriously hard to blend with the flavors normally used to build cocktails.

But there are a few ingredients that these whiskies will play with nicely. Sherry is probably the most famous pairing; sweet vermouth is another classic match, and berry flavors and lemon juice are also very mixable.

And of course, Scotch goes very well with Irish.

That’s where Cameron’s Kick comes in.

I had never tried Cameron’s Kick before Elizabeth Bourbon remarked on it, commenting on the Dubliner. The drink has been around for a long time—as near as I can tell, it was first published in Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. I’m not one of the world’s great Scotch drinkers, so it had never really caught my attention, or made it onto my “cocktails to try” list.

My loss; Cameron’s Kick is simple, flavorful, and summery, and much more easy-drinking than I anticipated.

Cameron's Kick Cocktail, photo © 2013 Douglas M. Ford. All rights reserved.
The Cameron’s Kick Cocktail

The formula goes like this:

Cameron’s Kick

  • 1½ oz Scotch whisky (Balvenie Doublewood 12)
  • 1½ oz Irish whiskey (2 Gingers, Jamieson)
  • ½–¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz Orgeat (Small Hand Orgeat)

Shake all ingredients with ice until cold; strain into a well-chilled cocktail stem. Optionally, express and garnish with lemon.

If you really like Scotch, especially big, peaty Scotches, then I recommend mixing Cameron’s Kick with your favorite, and adjust from there. In my case, I’ve found that peat seems to be the friction point for Scotch cocktails, the ingredient that puts so many Scotches in that hard-to-blend category. A less peaty Scotch like the Balvenie is a very good starting point. Its woodiness and relatively lighter flavor really help it balance with the other ingredients.

If you have a favorite Irish, go with it. Both the ubiquitous Jamieson’s and the newer 2 Gingers are excellent blenders, and work very nicely in this drink.

Cameron's Kick Cocktail, photo © 2013 Douglas M. Ford. All rights reserved.Lemon juice is the “anti-Scotch.” It has the interesting characteristic of subduing the peaty “Scotchness” of the whisky; this somewhat subversive ability allows you to tune the drink, and can make more aggressive Scotches a bit more palatable to drinkers who aren’t wholly committed to the finer aspects of Scotch and Irish whiskies. Adjusting the lemon one way or the other can make quite a difference in the way the drink presents itself.

The orgeat is Cameron Kick’s most intriguing ingredient. It makes a fine and somewhat offbeat sweetener to offset the lemon, and supplies a hint of almond to the aftertaste of each sip.

One more thing: on a whim, I added a couple dashes of absinthe. Like adding bitters to a Martini or Manhattan, it seemed to bring flavors forward, and to add a little depth to the drink’s flavor. I recommend it.

More Irish whiskey cocktails:


9 thoughts on “Scotch and Irish—Cameron’s Kick

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  1. Thanks Doug,
    I have never been fond of scotch cocktails but I will give this a try tonight. Another drink with orgeat is a big plus. I started making my own for the Mai Tai. It really isn’t that hard and the result is fantastic, however I have a lot of it on hand and there are only so many Mai Tais and Japanese Cocktails that I can drink.

    Eric in Napa

    1. Hi, Eric,

      I’ve never gotten around to making my own orgeat, though made-from-scratch ingredients always interest me. My hat is off to your efforts.

      There’s another orgeat “cocktail” you might like to try, since you have quality orgeat on hand: the non-alcoholic Orgeat Fizz. You can find it in the Savoy Cocktail Book; if you don’t have the book, you can find a nice writeup on the recipe at Erik Ellestad’s SavoyStomp.

      You know, comments like this always have the effect of a challenge for me—I just know I’ll be trying my first batch of homemade orgeat real soon…

      Thanks for commenting!

      1. Haven’t had a Cameron’s Kick in a while, Doug — I think I’ll mix one up tonight!

        For homemade orgeat, I like Rick Stutz’s “Perfect Orgeat” (http://www.kaiserpenguin.com/the-perfect-orgeat-syrup-recipe/) — it’s simpler and has a more robust flavor than the other recipes I’ve tried. In fact, it turns out quite similar to the commercially-available B.G. Reynolds’ Orgeat.

        Eric — take a look at The Ocean Shore, Tiki Time, and Navy-Army cocktails (http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/show/category/Orgeat/). All good stuff.

    1. Those are some of my favorite cocktail glasses — “Teardrop” coupes by Duncan Miller Glass Co., 1940s.

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