The B-52 Shot

B-52 shots in three shot glasses

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 shot
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
151 Calories
0g Fat
15g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 151
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 0mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 11mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The B-52 is one of the most popular shots. It is a triple-layered drink that is an excellent way to practice your layering skills and great for beginners because the three liqueurs almost naturally want to float on top of one another. Beyond that, it's an impressive looking shot that has the delicious taste of coffee cream kissed with sweet orange.

The original B-52 shot is said to have been created sometime in the 1970s by a bartender in Canada named Peter Fich who liked naming drinks after his favorite bands; the pop group the B-52s serves as the inspiration for this one in particular. It was a decade that layered Galliano atop the Harvey Wallbanger and saw multi-liquor icons such as the Long Island iced tea emerge from the shadows. Out of this same era came the family of retro shot drinks collectively known as the B-50s. Made using the same technique, the only difference in the shots is the third liquor that goes on top. Kahlua, Baileys, and Grand Marnier are the stars of the B-52, which is the most famous of the lot.

Keep in mind that it is possible to use different brands than those suggested, but your layers may not be as well-defined. While most liqueurs of the same style have a similar specific gravity, it is not a guarantee because one brand may contain more or less sugar, making it heavier or lighter than its competitors. Irish cream is the only one that shouldn't vary too much from one brand to the next.


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Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    B-52 shot ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats

  2. Pour the coffee liqueur into a shot glass.

    Coffee liqueur poured into three shot glasses

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  3. Float the Irish cream liqueur on top by pouring it slowly over the back of a bar spoon.

    Irish cream liqueur floating on coffee liqueur in three shot glasses

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  4. Float the Grand Marnier on top of the second layer, again using the spoon to break the flow.

    Grand Marnier layer added to the B-52 shot

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  5. Serve and enjoy.

Recipe Variations

  • 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 Kahlúa.
  • Cointreau is a popular substitution for Grand Marnier, but Gran Gala is a closer substitute because it also has a brandy base.
  • Create a creamy sipping cocktail by increasing the ingredients to fit a cocktail glass (keep the same 1/3 pour for each). Serve it either layered or shaken. It makes a beautiful pousse-café when layered in a wine goblet or slender, stemmed pousse-café glass.

Flaming B-52 Shot

Once you learn how to make a B-52, 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.

Flaming B-52 shot

The Spruce Eats

  1. Pour the B-52 a little shorter than normal, leaving extra space in the glass.

  2. Add a small amount—just enough for a thin layer—of 151-proof rum on the top.

  3. Light the shot on fire.

  4. Extinguish before drinking.

Fire and Alcohol Warning

Be careful when playing with fire in your bar. Accidents happen, so make sure hair, clothing, and other flammable materials are out of the way. Don't pour too much rum, avoid spills and splashes, and let everyone around you knows there is about to be fire. It's also important to ensure the flame is completely extinguished before drinking—under bright lights it may be difficult to see the blue flame. If you've had a bit too much to drink already, skip the fire and save it for another day.

Recipe Variations

The B-51, B-52, B-53, and B-54 have three things in common. They always have an equal pour of three liquors, two of which, Kahlúa and Baileys, are almost always used and in that order. They're always layered in the order the ingredients are given so the heaviest liquor is on the bottom and the lightest on the top. Here are some popular variations:

  • B-51: Equal pours of Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, and Frangelico.
  • B-53: Typically includes an anise-flavored liqueur, such as sambuca or absinthe.
  • B-54: Equal pours of Kahlúa, Baileys, and tequila.

How Strong Is a B-52 Shot?

If you pour any of these shots with the indicated, or call brands, and keep the third ingredient at 80 proof, it's easy to estimate their strength. There's no dilution, so the average layered B-52 is about 26 percent ABV (52 proof). Drinking two shots is equivalent to a straight shot of tequila or whiskey.

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