No matter what bar you work at, chances are you will be mixing up plenty of fun shots during your bartending shifts. It’s important to know some easy, popular shots as well as some seasonal favourites or speciality ones served at your bar so you can wow your customers every time.
Keep reading to learn how to make some easy shots you are likely to get asked to make time and time again. We will also answer some of your burning questions about what you need to know about making shots to be a great bartender.
What Are the Most Common Shots a Bartender Should Know?
As a bartender, you should have a pretty solid repertoire of shots that you know how to make with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back. Not actually, but you should be very confident in your ability to make some of the most popular shots before you start any bartending shift.
While it’s important to have a working knowledge of “staple” easy shots that you know how to make, remember that depending on what kind of bar you work in you might be asked to make some different types of shots (or even very few or none at all).
Here is a list of the top 5 easy shots for bartenders so you can review the ingredients and practice making these.
A Kamikaze is a classic shot, so it’s a great one to learn. It is very popular because it tastes good and goes down easy (for the most part). It is relatively easy to make with only 3 ingredients that are stocked in all bars, so this one should be easy to remember.
- ⅓ vodka of your customer’s choosing
- ⅓ Triple Sec or another orange liqueur
- ⅓ fresh lime juice
2. Lemon Drop
Made to resemble the popular lemon drop martini, lemon drop shots are another popular shot you can expect to make quite a bit as a bartender. With really only two main ingredients, it couldn’t be simpler to make.
- ½ vodka of your customer’s choosing
- ½ fresh lemon juice
- A sprinkle of sugar or a dash of simple syrup to taste
- Lemon wedge for garnish
3. Jager Bombs
This popular party shot has continued to top the charts regarding shots and fun cocktails for many years. Although the shot portion of this is only part of the equation, this is still taken as a shot, so we’ve included it here due to its popularity.
- 1 shot of Jagermeister
- Can of Red Bull (or another energy drink)
Jager Bombs are served differently than a regular shot in that you aren’t throwing all the ingredients in your shaker and pouring them into shot glasses to serve.
To properly serve a Jager Bomb, you pour individual shots of Jagermeister and individual glasses of Red Bull for all of the guests who have ordered the shot.
You serve the shots and glasses of Red Bull separately, and the person who is taking the shot will drop the shot of Jagermeister into the glass of Red Bull and quickly chug the whole drink. Jager Bombs are usually ordered by the round for large groups or parties, so expect to make a bunch at once.
4. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Who doesn’t want a shot that tastes a little like dessert and a little like a vacation? Pineapple upside-down cake shots is a crowd-pleaser because they really don’t taste like there’s any alcohol in them. They are also very pretty to look at, so this makes for a fun experience for all.
- ½ vanilla vodka
- ½ pineapple juice
- Splash of grenadine for colour
- Cherry for garnish
5. Dirty Girl Scout
Another popular shot on the scene is the Dirty Girl Scout. It is rumoured to taste just like the famous mint and chocolate cookies you probably still have in your freezer from the last time the Girl Scouts knocked on your door. The rich, sweet shot is a fun one to make and tastes even better!
- ⅓ vodka of your customer’s choosing
- ⅓ Bailey’s (or another Irish cream liqueur)
- ⅓ creme de menthe liqueur
What Is the Most Popular New Shot in 2022?
It’s hard to say what the most popular shot is in general because shot preference varies so much based on the bar. As a bartender at a local nightclub, you might make Kamikazes all night but never have to make something like a pineapple upside-down cake shot. It really all depends on your customers.
With that said, a newer shot emerging in popularity in 2022 is the “Bazooka Joe” shot. You heard that right, just like the bubble gum you loved to get out of birthday party goody bags and quarter machines as a kid.
The Bazooka Joe shot is a fun one, thanks to the nostalgia factor, and it also tastes really good too!
A Bazooka Joe shot can be served either as a traditional shaken shot or layered for a more dramatic and colourful effect. Both are considered the “right way” to make this shot, and it just depends on what you like and what your customer asks for.
Here is what you need to make your best Bazooka Joe shot:
- ⅓ Bailey’s (or another Irish cream liqueur)
- ⅓ banana liqueur
- ⅓ blue curacao liqueur
What Is the Best Way To Make a Shot?
It’s pretty simple and straightforward to make a shot, so you really won’t find the “best way”. For the most part, you need to pour all the ingredients in the right quantities into a cocktail shaker with some ice and shake, shake, shake.
Some shots require the ingredients to be layered on one another, which would require a bit more focus and measuring on your part, but 99% of shots require you to shake and pour. You do want to make sure you really shake it all together to blend the ingredients and chill them down with the ice as well.
Are Shots Hard To Make?
Most shots are easy to make. Once you have bartended for a while, you will probably feel like you can make most shots in your sleep.
The biggest thing to remember is to keep an eye on your measurements. If you are making shots for a large group, measuring the appropriate amount of each ingredient you will need to make enough for your order might take some practice.
Just remember that most easy shot recipes call for equal parts of all of the ingredients, so keep your measurements consistent, and you will get more comfortable with it over time.
Do You Need To Know Shot Recipes by Heart To Be a Bartender?
Most bars will be willing to train you on the speciality shots that are unique to their menu or are ones that their customers often order.
With that said, it’s good practice to have a working knowledge of some basic, popular shots like the ones listed above. This will give you some confidence when serving customers if they ask for you to recommend a shot; you will have a list of your favourites that you can easily and comfortably make for them.
Do All Bartenders Need To Know How To Make Shots?
It isn’t necessarily a requirement that all bartenders know how to make shots, especially if you work in an establishment that doesn’t serve any shots. However, if you ever want to work at a different type of bar or club that does serve shots, it’s a very helpful skill to have.
Bartending experts would likely tell you that even if you work somewhere that rarely serves shots or doesn’t serve them at all, you never know when you might be asked to make a shot.
Sometimes even when you’re out socially, and someone finds out you’re a bartender, they might ask you to whip up one of your favourite shots. To ensure you aren’t stuck without any ideas, it might be helpful to learn the basics we’ve outlined here.
How Do You Tell a Customer That You Don’t Know How To Make a Certain Shot?
At some point in your bartending career, you will be asked to make a drink or shot that you don’t know how to make. It’s an uncomfortable and sometimes downright embarrassing right of passage in this industry.
The most important thing to do is to know that this day WILL come. Prepare for it, anticipate it, and just let it roll when it does.
When you get asked to make a shot that you don’t know how to make, the biggest thing to remember is DON’T PANIC! Seriously! Take it instead as an opportunity to bond with your customer.
Here’s what to do to navigate this situation professionally and without feeling embarrassed.
Be honest and upfront about the fact that you’ve never heard of that shot before, or tell them that it’s been a while since you made one, and you might need a little refresher on the ingredients.
Most customers will welcome the chance to give you a quick rundown of what you need to make the shot. Thank them profusely, commit those ingredients to memory, and get back to business. Simple as that!