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B-52 Cocktail: the original layered shot recipe

Total time: 5 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 1 person
By Cookist


1/3 ounce
Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
1/3 ounce
Grand Marnier Liqueur
1/3 ounce

B-52 cocktail, or B-52 shot, is an impressive layered drink recipe. It's made of three alcoholic components: Kalhua coffe liqueur, Baileys Irish cream, and Grand Marnier orange liqueur.

The ingredients of this American drink are used in equal parts and poured in a specific order. It calls for a layered technique in order to make the alcoholic components remain separated because of their different density.

Thanks to its sweet yet bitter flavor and its creamy texture, B-52 is the perfect shot to serve as an after dinner or with chocolate or coffe desserts. Its alcohol content is about 27.7% ABV, so be moderate when you enjoy it.

History of the B-52 Cocktail

The origins of the B-52 are not very clear, it seems to have been invented by Adam Honigman, a bartender at the "Maxwell's Plum Bar" in New York in the late '70s. What is certain is that its name is a tribute to the famous American bombing plane that dropped incendiary napalm bombs during the Vietnam War. In fact, B-52 can be defined as a flaming or explosive cocktail, due to the mix of its ingredients and the effect that can be created by setting fire to the Grand Marnier, as a garnish.

However, the B-52 remains one of the most famous and appreciated cocktails that inspired and influenced all the pop culture of the 20th century.

What glasses to use for B-52?

Prepare the B-52 in small, tapered glasses. Avoid glasses that are too large as they would lose the visual impact of the drink.

You can also serve B-52 in a stemmed cocktail glass and sip it by doubling the alcohol doses and gently stirring the drink. However, in this case the layer of orange liqueur will not be distinct but will tend to blur as the glass is wider.

Tips and Variations

Instead of Kalhua you can use another coffee liqueur such as Tia Maria or Sheridan's.

If you don't want to use Grand Marnier you can replace it with another orange liqueur. Cointreau and Triple Sec are good alternatives.

Bartenders have created variations of this recipe over the years.

  • B-51 adds Frangelico instead of Grand Marnier.
  • B-53 calls for the Sambuca to replace the Irish cream.
  • B-54 uses amaretto instead of orange liqueur.

How to make Flaming B-52 Shot

You can also try the Flaming B-52 variation. Make a regular B-52, then top it with a splash of 151-proof rum. Light the shot on fire and let it extinguish before drinking it. You will create a scenic effect even if this method is not accepted as a professional technique. Just make sure to pay attention.


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How to make the B-52 Shot

Prepare the B-52 directly into the shot glass and pour the ingredients in the right order, using the back of the bar spoon, a teaspoon with a long handle. First, pour the Kahlua coffee liqueur.

Next, add the Baileys Irish cream sliding it slowly on the back of the spoon. Pour in the Grand Marnier in the same way.

You will then have the three separated layers that make up this original and excellent short drink. Serve and enjoy!

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