Online, you’ll find quite a few variations on the B52 shot cocktail. The classic recipe layers three spectacularly delicious liqueurs to create a shot that tastes something like a caramel candy with a hint of orange.
The B-52 shot: Grand Marnier, Kahlua and Baileys
The flavor is described by some bartenders as a little like caramel. And that’s pretty good for a very short answer. This shot is a subtle blend of coffee, orange, cream and whiskey flavors. There’s no single flavor which stands out much above the others.
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.
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. The delicious flavor of this drink definitely deserves savoring, nice and slow. 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.
Note that if you make brand substitutions, the layers might settle in a different order. This is okay – it’s all about specific gravity and it’s going to taste great no matter what.
So let’s get on to the main work of making this drink: layering.
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. It even uses the B52 as its example.
If you struggle with the spoon layering technique, these pourer spouts are your best friends. Attach them to the tops of bottles, and you can easily control the stream of liquid from your bottle. That means you can pour as slowly and smoothly as you want.
A lightweight cocktail
Because the B52 is all liqueurs, it’s a lightweight little cocktail. You can afford to have more than one. Or you can pour it in a bigger glass and enjoy a longer drink.
While you can chug it like a shot, this drink tastes too good for that. Sip it so you can enjoy the sweet flavors.
Variations on the B52
Note that some versions on this drink recipe substitute amaretto for the Grand Marnier. That changes the flavor profile of this drink.
First, it removes the orange flavor and emphasizes the caramel notes. And it also changes the order of the layers.
In the picture below, I made it with Baileys, Kahlua and Amaretto. The Amaretto went to the bottom, the Kahlua floated on top of that, and the Baileys floated on top of the Kahlua.
If you love Kahlua, be sure to check out our whole collection of Kahlua drinks.
If you make this drink with the classic Kahlua, Baileys and Grand Marnier, the Kahlua goes to the bottom. The Baileys floats on top of it once again, and the Grand Marnier floats on top of the Baileys.
Can You Substitute Other Liqueur Brands?
Some people have asked if you can use different brands of liqueurs in this drink. The answer is yes – any coffee liqueur, any Irish cream, any orange liqueur.
But as we mentioned above, be forewarned that different brands can have different specific gravity. That determines which liqueurs will settle below or another another.
If you do use a different brand and one of them decides to settle unexpectedly below another layer, this is usually okay. One layer can typically sink right through another one and settle after a few minutes.
Once it settles, it will still look beautiful. Just be patient and give it time to settle, and now you’ll know what order to pour the layers in for any additional drinks.
If you like this drink
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.
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.