You can make this gorgeous B-52 shot cocktail featuring Kahlua coffee liqueur, Irish cream liqueur, and Grand Marnier. You’ll love this drink from the first sip.
What Are the Ingredients of B-52?
The classic layered B-52 recipe calls for a coffee liqueur, an Irish cream and an orange liqueur. You can technically use any brand you want, but most versions of the recipe specify Kahlua, Baileys and Grand Marnier.
Note that if you make brand substitutions, the layers might settle in a different order (yes, I’ve done this). This is okay, and it’s going to taste great no matter what.
It happens because different brands may have different amounts of sugar, giving them different specific gravity, which is what determines which liqueurs will float on which other liqueurs.
Substitutions: Instead of Kahlua, you can use Tia Maria or generic coffee liqueur. Replace Baileys with other brands of Irish cream (try Carolan’s – it has a wonderful caramel flavor).
For Grand Marnier, you can substitute triple sec, orange curacao or Patron Citronge, but your layer will be clear instead of orange. Unless you go for surreal and use blue curacao!
What Does the B52 Taste Like?
The flavor is described by some bartenders as a little like caramel. And that’s a good short answer.
But this shot is a subtle blend of coffee, orange, cream and whiskey flavors, so you could pick up on any of those notes. There’s no single flavor which stands out much above the others.
To my palate, the overall taste is caramel with hints of orange. You don’t taste the coffee on its own so much, though it is there in the background. This drink really deserves to be savored alone – it’s a dessert all on its own.
Why is it Called a B52 Shot?
It’s hard to be sure of the origin of this drink, but it was probably named for the band, the B52s, rather than the bomber. It was probably named by a bartender at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta named Peter Fich, who loved the band.
What Percentage of Alcohol is in a B52 Shot?
Because it’s all lightweight liqueurs, this drink is about 26% ABV (alcohol by volume) or 52 proof. You’d need to drink at least two of these to get the same amount of alcohol that’s in a shot of whiskey.
How Do You Drink a B52?
As with most shots, drinkers usually toss back a B52 quickly so they get the flavors of all three layers in one taste. And if you like it like that, go for it.
But you can also savor it, layer by layer as they slowly mix with each sip. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but you can even stir the layers after it’s been served.
That way, the ingredients of your B52 shot are all mixed together, and you can drink it nice and slow and still taste everything.
How to Make The B-52 Cocktail
Layering is the reason many people shy away from trying to make this cocktail at home. It’s actually not as hard to do as you might think, although it can take a little practice.
How to Layer The Cocktail
If you’ve never tried to layer a cocktail before, check out our guide to layering cocktails. It has photos and detailed instructions, or a video if you prefer it. Here’s a condensed version of the instructions.
You pour the Kahlua first, filling about a third of your shot glass.
Now turn a spoon upside down. Put it mostly inside the glass, with the tip against the other side of the glass, but keep it above the first layer.
Pour the Irish cream very slowly over the back of the spoon, moving the spoon up gradually as the level of ingredients rises.
Do the same thing again with the Grand Marnier, and you’re all set. Yes, you can use the same spoon for both top layers.
Variations on the B52
The B-54: note that some versions of this drink recipe substitute amaretto for the Grand Marnier. But that’s actually a B-54. It has no orange notes, and more caramel notes.
In the picture below, I made it with Baileys, Kahlua and DiSoronno Amaretto. The Amaretto went to the bottom, the Kahlua floated on top of that, and the Baileys floated on top of the Kahlua.
Most of the other variations include Kahlua and Irish Cream, but swap something out for the Grand Marnier.
B-51: Same as the B-52, except Frangelico hazelnut liqueur replaces Grand Marnier.
B-53: Anise-flavored Sambuca or absinthe replaces the Grand Marnier.
B-54: Kahlua, Irish cream and tequila.
B-55: Kahlua, peppermint schnapps and Grand Marnier.
The Flaming B-52 Shot
If you like this drink
The Irish Flag is another three layer shot. It’s similar to the B52, but features creme de menthe, Baileys and Grand Marnier.
The Velvet Hammer isn’t layered, but it tastes amazing. It blends cognac and cream with Tia Maria, Cointreau and creme de cacao.
The T-52 Shooter is another beautiful shot with Kahlua, Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream Liqueur and Grand Marnier.
B52 Shot Cocktail Recipe
The classic B52 shot recipe makes a delicious, sweet little cocktail that's beautiful to look at, too. You layer three tasty liqueurs, and the resulting flavor is something like cafe l'orange or a caramel candy with hints of orange.
- 1/2 ounce Kahlua
- 1/2 ounce Bailey's Irish Cream
- 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
- Pour the Kahlua into a shot glass.
- Pouring slowly over the back of a spoon or with a bottle pourer, add an equal layer of Baileys Irish Cream.
- Still pouring slowly over the spoon or with a pourer, add the layer of Grand Marnier.
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