B52 Shot Recipe — Smartblend (2024)

drinksco*cktailsclassic co*cktaillayered drink

Written By Cameron Fielding

The ultimate best ever B52 Shot drink recipe and guide.

B52 Shot Recipe — Smartblend (1)

The B-52, renowned for its captivating appearance, comprises of a harmonious blend of three distinct liqueurs: Baileys Irish cream, Grand Marnier, and coffee liqueur. This delectable concoction is meticulously layered within a shot glass, making it a visually appealing choice among enthusiasts.

And if I do say so myself, fun to both make and drink!

Jump to the recipe

B52 Drink History

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The exact origin of the B-52 co*cktail remains uncertain, although one theory suggests that it was invented by Peter Fich, who served as the head bartender at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada. Fich had a habit of naming his new concoctions after beloved bands, albums, and songs. The name "B-52" allegedly came from a band with the same name, not directly from the US B-52 Stratofortress bomber or the beehive hairstyle that inspired the band's name.

It is said that one of Fich's early customers, who owned various restaurants in different Alberta cities, was so enamored with the B-52 drink that he decided to include it on his restaurant's menu. Subsequently, people began associating the B-52 co*cktail with the Keg Steakhouse in Calgary, Alberta, which led to the perception that this establishment was its birthplace in 1977.
Another bartender, Adam Honigman, from Maxwell's Plum in New York City, is also rumored to have contributed to the creation of the B-52 co*cktail.

B 52 Drink Variations

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The B-51, B-52, B-53, and B-54 share three common characteristics. Firstly, they always consist of three liquors, with a consistent equal pour of each. The two main liquors utilized in these co*cktails are usually Kahlúa and Baileys, following a specific order. Additionally, they are consistently layered in the sequence the ingredients are mentioned, ensuring that the heaviest liquor settles at the bottom and the lightest remains on top. Here are a few popular variations of these co*cktails:

  • B-51: Composed of equal amounts of Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, and Frangelico.

  • B-53: Typically includes an anise-flavored liqueur, such as sambuca or absinthe.

  • B-54: Consists of equal measures of Kahlúa, Baileys, and amaretto

You’ll also come across B-52 variations with spirit tops such as rum (the flaming B-52) Tequila or Vodka.

Flaming B-52 Shot

Discovering the art of crafting a B-52 co*cktail is just the beginning - it's time to step up your game. With a simple addition of overproof rum, you can effortlessly transform this classic drink into a dazzling spectacle known as the Flaming B-52.

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If your Grand Marnier is at room temperature, you may be able to get away with just lighting the regular shot eliminating the need for rum altogether. Give it a try.
To create this awe-inspiring co*cktail, start by familiarizing yourself with the classic B-52 recipe. Once mastered, you're ready to take things to the next level. With the addition of a small amount of overproof rum gently cascaded atop the original layers, you'll infuse the drink with a captivating flicker of flames that dance atop each sip.

Safety Warning!

It is crucial to remember that safety should always remain a priority when dealing with open flames. Exercise caution, and be mindful of surroundings and potential hazards. As with any experimentation, proper understanding and careful execution are key.

Blow out the flames before shooting it, and if your flaming B52 has been lit for awhile, wait for it to cool down. Otherwise you’ll get a lip of hot glass and become a social media viral sensation for all the wrong reasons.

Why layered drinks work

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The trick to layering drinks all comes down to alcohol density (or the gravity of each liquid).

Simply put, if 1 liquid is light and another is heavy, then the light liquid will sit on top of the heavy liquid, creating layers.

The difference between the heaviness or density of each liquid will usually come down to sugar. The higher the sugar content, the heavier it is. Which is why when you put syrup in coffee it sinks right to the bottom and you have to stir it to combine.

The b52 is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Coffee liqueur is full of sugar so it sits at the bottom, Grand Marnier is light so it sits on top and baileys is right in the middle, allowing it to sit in-between.

With that understanding you can create any layered shot you want. Just swap out the ingredients in this recipe with ones that have similar densities.

How to layer drinks

Layer drinks slowly over the back of a spoon like this…

B52 Shot Recipe — Smartblend (6)

The bigger the difference in density, the crisper the layers will be. Take this shot for example…

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That is my Italian Flag Shot. Notice how the bottom red layer and middle white layer have a crisp line between them, especially when compared to the white layer and top green layer which almost blends with each other.

I layered them the exact same way. The reason for the crisper layer at the bottom is that there’s a bigger difference between the densities of those to liquids. The top and middle layer is more similar so it blends.

How to figure out what liquor will layer?

As mentioned above, sugar density is what you’re trying to figure out. The higher the sugar, the denser it will be. Generally speaking if a liquid is higher in ABV it’ll have less sugar and so will be lighter. 40% ABV rum will sit on top of a 20% ABV liqueur for example.

Check out my alcohol density chart here.

The chart looks like this.

I’ve listed just 3 sections - the alcohol, the density also known as gravity and the colour. Colour is important because layering a brown liquid on top of a beige liquid won’t really pop, but introduce some colour and hey presto! it looks amazing.

Liquor with a lower gravity number will sit on top of something with a higher number. On that chart, it goes on order so basically, the higher up the chart the lighter the liquid, with Everclear being the lightest liquid - nothing will layer on top of that.

Substituting the B52

So lets say you want to swap the Grand Marnier in this recipe for something else. Grand Marnier is the top layer, which sits on top of the baileys. So head to the density chart and pick anything above the baileys.

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Everything above will layer on Baileys, the further up you go, the crisper the layer will be. Any questions about this comment them below and I’ll be sure to answer them. However, first read through the density chart because I list more advice there.

More layered drinks similar to the B52

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Flag shots. Here are my 5 layered flag shots.

Italian Flag Shot

Finland Flag Shot

Irish Flag Shot

French Flag Shot

Swedish Flag Shot

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As for the co*cktails, start by checking out my layered Ukraine flag co*cktail here.

Baby Guinness

Finally, don’t forget to check out the B52’s older and more popular brother, the Baby Guinness.

B52 Shot Recipe — Smartblend (12)

If you’re just starting with layering, I’d recommend you try a Baby Guinness first. You don’t have to be so careful with the layers and 2 layers is easier then 3.

B52 Shot Ingredients

The b52 is comprised of the following 3 ingredients;

Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur

Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur is a rich and velvety alcoholic beverage renowned for its distinctively smooth and creamy taste.

One of the key elements that sets Baileys apart from other liqueurs is its exquisite blend of fine Irish whiskey, fresh dairy cream, and a touch of cocoa and vanilla.

You may substitute the Baileys in this recipe for another cream liqueur of your liking.

Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier is a time-honored liqueur renowned for its exquisite blend of citrus essence and fine Cognac. At its core, Grand Marnier embodies a perfect harmony between the zest of bitter oranges and the opulence of aged Cognac. The oranges, carefully selected from the sun-kissed groves of the Mediterranean, undergo a meticulous peeling process that captures the vibrant essence of their zest. This aromatic citrus base intertwines with the silky smoothness of Cognac, crafted from the most renowned vineyards in the Cognac region of France.

To substitute Grand Marnier in this recipe, choose a higher proof orange liqueur such as Cointreau.

Kahlua Coffee Liqueur

Kahlua Coffee Liqueur is a popular and iconic alcoholic beverage renowned for its rich and captivating flavor profile. This enticing liqueur offers a unique combination of aromatic coffee essence and delicate rum notes, making it a timeless choice for co*cktail enthusiasts and coffee lovers alike.

You can substitute the Kahlua with any other coffee liqueur of your choosing.

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B52 Shot Frequently Asked Questions

are b 52 shots gluten free

All of the ingredients in a B52 are stated as gluten free, but always check via the official liquors website if you’re concerned.

is b52 shot strong

The b52 is around 24-29% abv making it not strong. It’s almost half the alcohol content of a tequila shot.

why is it called a b52 shot

The believed story is that the b52 shot got it’s name from the band of the same name, named after it’s creator Peter Fich.

how to make a b52 shot

Layer equal parts Kahlua, Baileys and Grand Marnier over the back of a spoon into a shot glass in that exact order.

what does a b52 shot taste like

Creamy orange coffee.

b52 shot variations

There are endless b52 variations including the flaming b52 - b53, b54 and b51. Check the above for how to make each variation.

b52 shot with absinthe

To make the b52 with absinthe, swap the Grand Marnier in the recipe for absinthe. However, word of warning it’ll be a lot stronger. If you want the taste of absinthe but not the high alcohol content, replace it with sambuca which will taste the same.

b52 shot with Cointreau

The Grand Marnier in this recipe can be substituted with Cointreau and the drink will still taste like a b52 should. However the layer may not be as crisp and pronounced.

b52 shot with vodka

To make a b52 with vodka, Substitute the top layer, the Grand Marnier.

B-52 Shot recipehttps://i.ytimg.com/an_webp/LnGPSINuiQo/mqdefault_6s.webp?du=3000&sqp=CMTRk6oG&rs=AOn4CLBxhOvMRmb1-b9NOeQYYBaHQIpF8QDrink Recipe - Layer 1/2 oz Kahlua 1/2 oz Bailey's 1/2 oz Grand Marnier Top with Bacardi 151 and light ithttps://i.ytimg.com/an_webp/LnGPSINuiQo/mqdefault_6s.webp?du=3000&sqp=CMTRk6oG&rs=AOn4CLBxhOvMRmb1-b9NOeQYYBaHQIpF8Q2015-01-16

B52 Shot Recipe — Smartblend (14)

B-52 Shot

Yield: 1

Author: Cameron Fielding

Prep time: 1 MinCook time: 1 MinTotal time: 2 Min

The B-52, renowned for its captivating appearance, comprises of a harmonious blend of three distinct liqueurs: Baileys Irish cream, Grand Marnier, and coffee liqueur. This delectable concoction is meticulously layered within a shot glass, making it a visually appealing choice among enthusiasts.



  1. Pour the coffee liqueur into a shot glass.
  2. Slowly layer the Baileys on top of the coffee liqueur and the Grand Marnier on top of the Baileys.


Once you've nailed this recipe, start swapping the ingredients to make your own version remembering to keep the most dense ingredient at the bottom and the lightest on top. Use this alcohol density chart to figure out what will work/Find liquors with similar density to what you're swapping out.

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Nutrition Facts




1.29 g

Sat. Fat

0.78 g


9.82 g


0 g

Net carbs

9.82 g


9.35 g


0.3 g


1.53 mg


0 mg

Calories based on co*cktail + entire bottle of liqueur

The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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How To Make A Baby Guinness | Top 100 Classic co*cktail RecipesSwedish Flag Shot RecipeIrish Flag Shot RecipeItalian Flag Shot RecipeFrench Flag Shot RecipeFinland Flag Shot Recipe


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Cameron Fielding

B52 Shot Recipe — Smartblend (2024)
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