B-52 Cocktail Drink

B-52

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

Craving a tasty drink? The B-52 recipe combines a trio of ingredients to make a cocktail that’s as memorable as it is delicious.

B-52 Shot Recipe

Warm up with this classic B-52 recipe! Made with Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier, this layered shot is a delightful treat any time of the year.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

92 kl

Ingredients

  • oz Kahlúa, or another Coffee Liqueur
  • oz Baileys Irish Cream
  • oz Grand Marnier

Equipment

  • Shot Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Layering spoon or the back of a spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Start with a clean shot glass.
  • Add Coffee Liqueur: Pour ⅓ oz Kahlúa into the shot glass.
  • Layer Baileys: Using the back of a spoon, gently pour ⅓ oz Baileys Irish Cream to create the second layer.
  • Layer Grand Marnier: Using the back of a spoon, gently pour ⅓ oz Grand Marnier to form the top layer.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Kahlúa: I've used other coffee liqueurs when I couldn't find Kahlúa. Giffard coffee liqueur works quite well.
  • Baileys Irish Cream: Amarula, an African cream liqueur, makes a nice swap. It introduces a fruity hint, changing the character of the drink but still delicious.
  • Grand Marnier: Cointreau or another quality orange liqueur can take its place. The orange essence remains, but you might notice subtle differences in the citrus flavor profile.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Kahlúa or Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic coffee syrup. It mimics the coffee flavor without the alcohol.
  • Baileys Substitute: Opt for non-alcoholic Irish cream syrup available in the market.
  • Grand Marnier Substitute: A splash of orange juice concentrate or orange syrup can capture the orange essence without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic B-52 shot. (it may not be layered as non-alcoholic ingredients have different viscosity)

Making it Vegan:

  • Baileys Irish Cream: Look for Baileys Almande or another vegan almond milk-based liqueur. It's dairy-free but still offers a creamy texture and rich flavor.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
92
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
1
g
2
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Sodium
 
2
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
10
g
3
%
Sugar
 
9
g
10
%
Potassium
 
3
mg
0
%
Protein
 
0.3
g
1
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.02
g
Calcium
 
0.1
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.01
mg
0
%

 

B-52 Cocktail Drink

B-52 Shot Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Warm up with this classic B-52 recipe! Made with Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier, this layered shot is a delightful treat any time of the year.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 92

Ingredients
 

  • oz Kahlúa - or another Coffee Liqueur
  • oz Baileys Irish Cream
  • oz Grand Marnier

Equipment

  • Shot Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Layering spoon or the back of a spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Start with a clean shot glass.
  • Add Coffee Liqueur: Pour ⅓ oz Kahlúa into the shot glass.
  • Layer Baileys: Using the back of a spoon, gently pour ⅓ oz Baileys Irish Cream to create the second layer.
  • Layer Grand Marnier: Using the back of a spoon, gently pour ⅓ oz Grand Marnier to form the top layer.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Kahlúa: I've used other coffee liqueurs when I couldn't find Kahlúa. Giffard coffee liqueur works quite well.
  • Baileys Irish Cream: Amarula, an African cream liqueur, makes a nice swap. It introduces a fruity hint, changing the character of the drink but still delicious.
  • Grand Marnier: Cointreau or another quality orange liqueur can take its place. The orange essence remains, but you might notice subtle differences in the citrus flavor profile.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Kahlúa or Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic coffee syrup. It mimics the coffee flavor without the alcohol.
  • Baileys Substitute: Opt for non-alcoholic Irish cream syrup available in the market.
  • Grand Marnier Substitute: A splash of orange juice concentrate or orange syrup can capture the orange essence without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic B-52 shot. (it may not be layered as non-alcoholic ingredients have different viscosity)

Making it Vegan:

  • Baileys Irish Cream: Look for Baileys Almande or another vegan almond milk-based liqueur. It's dairy-free but still offers a creamy texture and rich flavor.

What is a B-52 Shot?

The B-52 cocktail combines Coffee Liqueur, Baileys Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier. It’s recognized for its distinct visual appeal, with each ingredient sitting on top of the other. While the B-52 might seem like a complex concoction, it’s straightforward. The cocktail’s name, believed to be inspired by the B-52 bomber plane, hints at its powerful impact.

A side shot of a B-52 cocktail in a shot glass on a black stone coaster placed on a red cloth on a white table with a bar spoon, a jigger and coffee beans around, in front of a grey wall.

What is a B-52 Shot made of – The ingredients

To prepare to make your B52 shot, collect these three ingredients:

  • Coffee Liqueur: Provides the cocktail’s rich, deep base.
  • Baileys Irish Cream: Adds a creamy texture and a touch of sweetness to the mix.
  • Grand Marnier: An orange-flavored cognac liqueur that introduces a zesty citrus layer.

Kahlúa, Bailey's Irish Cream and Grand Manier laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a B-52 Shot?

To make your own B-52 shot, follow our easy guide:

1
<p>Start with a clean shot glass, ready for layering.</p>

Start with a clean shot glass, ready for layering.

2
<p>Pour Kahlúa or your favorite coffee liqueur into the shot glass to create the cocktail’s foundation.</p>

Pour Kahlúa or your favorite coffee liqueur into the shot glass to create the cocktail’s foundation.

3
<p>Carefully layer Baileys Irish Cream over the Kahlúa using the back of a spoon to prevent mixing.</p>

Carefully layer Baileys Irish Cream over the Kahlúa using the back of a spoon to prevent mixing.

4
<p>Gently add Grand Marnier on top, again using the back of a spoon, to form the final layer.</p>

Gently add Grand Marnier on top, again using the back of a spoon, to form the final layer.

5
<p>Serve and enjoy your B-52 shot.</p>

Serve and enjoy your B-52 shot.

What’s the Main alcohol for a B-52?

The heart and soul of the B-52 is its trio of distinct liqueurs. Coffee liqueur, rich and velvety, lays the foundation for our layered shot with its deep coffee notes and luscious flavor. Next, we have Baileys Irish Cream, which brings a creamy texture and a hint of whiskey warmth to the blend. It’s an Irish creation that perfectly balances cream and alcohol. Lastly, there’s Grand Marnier, a French delight. Distilled from a cognac and bitter orange mix, it rounds off the B-52 with a zesty citrus kick. Together, these three create a symphony of harmonious and compelling flavors.

A B-52 cocktail, shot from above, in a shot glass on a black stone coaster placed on a red cloth on a white table with a bar spoon, a jigger and coffee beans around.

Flaming B-52 Cocktail

This variation stands out with its dramatic presentation, where the top layer is set ablaze just before serving. The flames caramelize the sugars, adding a unique toasted flavor. I find the theatrical aspect of the Flaming B-52 captivating, and the caramelized taste is a delightful bonus.

A side shot of a B-52 cocktail in a shot glass on a black stone coaster placed on a red cloth on a white table with a bar spoon, a jigger and coffee beans around.

History and Origin of the B-52 Shot

The B-52 cocktail, known for its striking layered appearance, came to life in the 1970s. Peter Fich, a head bartender at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, claims credit for its creation. Inspired by the band “The B-52’s,” Peter named his new concoction after them, and the cocktail quickly became a hit.

The name also parallels the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, mirroring the cocktail’s “bomb shot” nature, especially when drinkers set it aflame to create a “Flaming B-52.” This technique of lighting the drink emphasizes its fiery and explosive character, much like the aircraft with which it shares its name.

The cocktail’s appeal isn’t just in its name or presentation. The delicate balancing act of layering the three distinct liqueurs without mixing them requires skill, making it a favorite challenge for bartenders worldwide. Over time, as the drink gained popularity, numerous variations, as previously discussed, emerged, further establishing its iconic status in the cocktail world.

A B-52 cocktail, shot form above, on a white bar table surrounded by a Kahlúa bottle, a Bailey's Irish Cream bottle and a Grand Marnier bottle.

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FAQ

How many calories are in a B-52?
A typical B-52 contains approximately 130-150 calories, but this can vary based on specific brands and proportions of ingredients used.
How strong is a B-52 in terms of ABV and proof?
The B-52's strength varies by ingredient brands, but it has an ABV of around 20-25% on average, making it 40-50 proof.
What types of alcohol are used in a B-52?
The B-52 consists of Coffee Liqueur, Baileys Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier.
In which type of glass is a B-52 typically served?
The B-52 is traditionally served in a shot glass.
What does a B-52 taste like?
The B-52 offers a harmonious blend of coffee from the Coffee Liqueur, creaminess from the Baileys, and a zesty citrus kick from the Grand Marnier.
What is the typical ratio of ingredients in a B-52?
The classic B-52 has equal parts of each ingredient, usually 1/3 of the glass for each liqueur.
How is the B-52 typically served with ice?
The B-52 is usually served up with no ice involved.
Why is it called the B-52?
The cocktail is named after the band "The B-52s" and also draws parallels to the B-52 Stratofortress bomber.
Can you light a B-52 on fire?
Yes, some enthusiasts light the top layer on fire to create the "Flaming B-52".

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