The sweet, limey Kamikaze is a classic, unpretentious crowd-pleaser that has fueled parties since the disco era.
The Kamikaze, undoubtedly named after the Japanese special attack force that flew their planes into enemy ships during World War II, is a reliable workhorse shot. Origin stories may vary, but unlike other drinks, cocktail historians aren’t exactly poring over historical accounts over where or when it was first created.
Though it may not enjoy the venerated status of the Martini or pop culture associations like the Cosmopolitan, the unpretentious Kamikaze can always be depended upon to keep a party going.
The Kamikaze hits with soft, juicy, lime balanced against a slightly syrupy sweetness.
1 ounce vodka: An affordable to mid-range vodka should work fine.
½ ounce lime juice: If fresh squeezed lime juice is impractical, Cocktail Artist offers an excellent bottled option.
½ ounce triple sec: a sweet orange liqueur.
Add ice to a shaker/mixing tin
Pour 1 oz Vodka
Pour ½ oz Lime juice
Pour ½ oz Triple sec
Shake 10-15 seconds
Strain into a shot glass. Pro tip: shaking causes the ice to melt, resulting in a larger shot than the original 2 ounces listed in the ingredients.
The simplicity of the Kamikaze lends itself to lots of interesting variations. It’s not often one runs into a Kamikaze snob, but they’re out there.
Try experimenting with different flavored vodkas such as raspberry, orange or even vanilla for fun flavor combinations.
Replacing triple sec with sweet flavored liqueurs can also add different visual and flavor elements. For example, Chambord adds a sweet berry punch and a deep purple/pink presentation, while blue curaçao retains the orange flavor but creates a striking neon blue/green color.
If you’re not into slugging back shots, the Kamikaze can be strained into a cocktail glass or over ice into a highball and garnished with a lime wheel. Consider increasing the proportions of each ingredient.
As mentioned above, either fresh squeezed or bottled lime juice will work. If using a pre-sweetened lime juice (such as Rose’s Lime) consider reducing the amount of triple sec.
Orange curaçao or even Grand Marnier may be substituted for triple sec, though the latter will impart a deeper, stronger orange flavor and darker color.
When to Serve Kamikazes
This is a utility shot meant to jump start the party. One technically could relax and sip a Kamikaze, but that’s not really what shots are for, are they?
Large, high-intensity events: Sometimes people need to “shoot and scoot” rather than “sit and savor.” Hosting large events may require a dedicated bartender, as it’s rare to make just one Kamikaze at a time.
Hosting parties: Sometimes a party reaches a point when it’s time to pull out the shaker and line up the shots!
Outdoor events: If served as a cocktail, the Kamikaze is perfect for golfing, cookouts, or just sitting on the porch.
After dinner: the sweet citrus of the Kamikaze works as a fresh after dinner palate cleanser.
What to Serve with a Kamikaze Drink
If enjoying as a cocktail instead of a shot (see “Variations” above),
Fruit desserts, especially sorbet and fresh berries.
Light to medium-bodied seafood, such as shrimp cocktail, calamari, ceviche, or sushi.
Savory snacks and small plates, especially soft cheeses and crackers, and bruschetta.