The B-52 is one of the most popular shot drinks you will find. It is a triple-layered drink that is perfect for practicing your layering skills and a ton of fun at parties.
The original B-52 shot is reported to have been created sometime in the 1970's. This was a decade of layering Galliano atop the Harvey Wallbanger and pouring almost every bottle of booze in a glass to create icons like the Long Island Iced Tea. Out of this same era came the popular round of shots collectively known as the B-50s.
The B-50 Shot Family
The B-52 is, by far, one of the best-known shots to have survived the last few decades, but there are more B-50s as you can see below.
The B-51, B-52, B-53, and B-54 all have three things in common:
- An equal pour of liquor, 1/3 of a shot glass for each ingredient. The exact amount will depend on the size of the shot glass and they look best as tall shots.
- Kahlua and Baileys are almost always used, the third ingredient varies.
- Layered in the order the ingredients are given (heaviest liquor on the bottom, lightest on the top).
The B-52 Shot
Kahlua, Baileys, and Grand Marnier are the stars of the B-52. These three liqueurs combine to create a delightful taste, with a little citrus to accent the coffee cream. If you are looking for a great tasting shooter, the B-52 is a great choice.
- Pour the coffee liqueur into a shot glass.
- Float the Irish cream liqueur on top.
- Float the Grand Marnier on top of the second layer.
If you want to switch things up, here are a few suggestions:
- Don't want the layers? Shake the ingredients and strain them into the glass.
- Some B-52 recipes replace the Irish cream with amaretto.
- Tia Maria is a popular substitution for Kahlua.
- Cointreau is a popular substitution for Grand Marnier.
- Create a creamy sipping cocktail by increasing the ingredients to fit a cocktail glass (keep the same 1/3 ratio). Serve it either layered or shaken.
It is possible to use different brands than those suggested, but your layers may not be as well-defined as it is with these three. While most liqueurs of the same style have a similar specific gravity, it is not a guarantee. Irish cream is the only one that should be very similar no matter which brand you choose.
Flaming B-52 Shot
Do you like fire? Once you learn how to make a B-52, you can take it to the next level. By adding just a little bit of overproof rum on top of the original drink, you can easily make a Flaming B-52.
As long as your Grand Marnier is at room temperature, it is also possible to light the B-52 without the rum.
- Pour the B-52 a little shorter than normal, leaving extra space in the glass.
- Add a small amount (about 3 drops) of 151-proof rum on the top.
- Light the shot on fire.
- Extinguish before drinking!
Be careful when playing with fire in your bar. Accidents happen, so make sure hair and clothing are out of the way, you don't pour too much rum, and that everyone around you knows there is about to be fire.
If you've had a bit too much to drink already, skip the fire and save it for another day.
The B-51 Shot
- 1/3 shot Kahlua
- 1/3 shot Bailey's Irish Cream
- 1/3 shot Frangelico
Create this shot in the same way as the B-52, layering the ingredients in the order given.
The B-53 Shot
The B-53 shot typically includes an anise-flavored liqueur like sambuca or absinthe.
They're some of the most potent shots of the B-50 family, both in taste and alcohol content, depending on what alcohol you choose to use.
The B-54 Shot
- 1/3 shot Kahlua
- 1/3 shot Baileys Irish Cream
- 1/3 shot tequila
Again, layer the ingredients in a shot glass in the order given.
How Strong are the B-50 Shots?
If we were to pour any of these shots with the call brands and kept that third ingredient at 80 proof, we can estimate how strong they are. On average, the layered B-52 is about 26% ABV (52 proof).