The History of the Kamikaze

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This incredibly tasty drink epitomizes everything that you would want in a cocktail. It includes two sources of alcohol, requires a shaker and is presented in an elegant cocktail glass. It can be mixed with either lemon or lime juice, depending on your preference and it requires equal amounts of all ingredients, making it a quick and simple cocktail to make.

However, as the name might suggest, it was born from a rather dark place.

Who Invented the Kamikaze Cocktail?

It is thought that this drink was created within an American Naval base in Japan during World War II. It was actually originally a shot, but it became so popular that it was adapted into cocktail form. Today, bartenders may serve it either way.

The WW2 soldiers named it after the Japanese kamikaze bombers. These bombers were trained to fly their adapted planes directly into enemy warships, which would then create an explosion and kill the occupants of both vehicles. It was effectively a suicide mission, first deployed in October 1944 in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The tactic was supposed to swing the war result in the favour of the Japanese, but it was unsuccessful.

The Japanese translation of Kamikaze is ‘divine wind’, which could also be a reference to the potent sweet-sour mix of ingredients within the cocktail. And since its popularity did not really kick off until the 1970s, some insist that it was created within the disco scene that ensued in this era.

All this speculation means that we don’t really know who invented the drink!

Variations of the Kamikaze Cocktail

Although this drink is widely recognized as a cocktail in its own right, it is also often referred to as a variation on several other classic cocktails. It is similar to a Margarita, simply substituting vodka for tequila. It is also often referred to as a Cosmopolitan without cranberry juice.

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You can have a lot of fun with the Kamikaze. You can adjust the quantities of each ingredient to create something that better suits your palate. You can add blue curacao in the place of triple sec to make a Blue Kamikaze or you can switch your plain vodka for a flavoured one, adding a new element to the taste. You can even replace the vodka for Southern Comfort, to create a SoCo Kamikaze.

Whether you shot it or sip it, all mixologists agree that this is a drink that requires premium ingredients. Don’t be tempted to use premixed lime juice in place of the fresh stuff. The drink might be simple, but it is the quality of each part that ensures it stands out as a classic cocktail.


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Bartender's top tip

Shaking is crucial for emulsifying vinaigrettes and cocktails, but not suitable for delicate ingredients that can break apart or become overworked

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