Raise the Kamikaze

How a classic cocktail lost its class


There's something about the Kamikaze that just screams amateur hour. 2 for 1 special. Bowling alley bar. It's one of those drinks that shows up in stories of how Friday night turned into a special sort of spiral. This reputation has something to do with the Kamikaze's incarnation as an easy-to-slam shot, and even more to do with it being, well. Delicious. That's right, vodka-phobes. We said it.

Legend has it that the Kamikaze was first poured on an American Naval base in Japan in the late 1940s, and that the name (not unlike the Zombie) is meant to give you an idea of its effect.
Though it's often shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass, given its proximity to the margarita -- swap the vodka for tequila -- it makes just as much sense on the rocks. To assist in reclaiming the Kamikaze from the drink-special ghetto, use decent vodka (it doesn't have to be top shelf, but don't rely on the mixers to mask a terrible spirit), quality triple sec (though, seriously, it's best with Cointreau), and fresh lime juice. Add a nice glass and a pretty garnish, and you've got yourself a perfect summer sipper.

If it's the spiral you're after, fair enough. A Kamikaze shot is equal parts lime juice, triple sec, and vodka (about 3/4 an oz of each); a SoCo Kamikaze slips Southern Comfort in for vodka. Cheers.

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  • Snooth User: clydeh7
    69474 1

    I've always thought that you wouldn't want to have ice in a drink that you would slam. Seems like it should be strained?

    Jul 23, 2010 at 3:02 PM

  • As A bartender in a bowling alley bar, I get plenty of requests for Kamikazes. Not only are my customers "Kamikaze Connoisseurs," they are some of the nicest, least pretentious people I have ever had the pleasure of serving. Having bartended for 23 years, I have worked in hotel lounges, top rated restaurant bars, neighborhood dives, and now, a bowling alley bar. I enjoy serving these patrons who are not trying to impress me, or anyone else with their knowledge of cocktails. These people know what they want and are there to simply enjoy themselves with friends and family. Quite a refreshing change from some of the uptight, stuffy places I have worked. So thanks for the well intentioned nod to a classic "bowling alley bar drink." Cheers!

    Jul 23, 2010 at 3:29 PM

  • Snooth User: CarrJL
    426476 10

    When made correctly, a kamikaze is nice refreshing drink. But I've had bartenders try to mix in seltzer or other ingredients that serve no purpose. The simple recipe here is similar to mine, but I up the amounts a bit and drink it like a cocktail instead of something to be "slammed."

    Jul 23, 2010 at 4:21 PM

  • Snooth User: TracyF
    Hand of Snooth
    603685 322

    Here, here. A Kamikaze (on the rocks) is one of my go-to drinks, though some bartenders do a really terrible job mixing what should be a basic, delicious drink. But I'm going to keep drinking it despite its reputation.

    Oct 14, 2010 at 6:50 PM

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