When Shakespeare wrote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce,” he was perhaps describing the mythical shooter. This miniature mixed drink served in a shot glass has come in and out of style over the years, but for mindful drinkers, they’ve remained a lower-proof way to be part of the celebration without risking the dreaded consequences of a full-sized shot.
While shooters can suffer a low-brow reputation thanks to neon-hued Jell-O and Kamikaze concoctions full of sweet and cheap ingredients, top bartenders have been creatively reclaiming the category. From handshake shots often shared by industry professionals to unique recipes from our favorite bars, here are five bartender-approved options that are easy enough to make at home.
Located in NYC’s Greenwich Village, Katana Kitten boasts a wide array of Japanese-inspired cocktails served in a cozy, dimly lit setting. On his large cocktail list, bar owner Masahiro Urushido includes several boilermakers, including the Ichi-Mas. The simple drink can be found in “The Japanese Art of the Cocktail” — co-authored by Urushido and Michael Anstendig — and combines the rich floral notes of Japanese whisky with spicy salt and a refreshing watermelon slice to follow.
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- 1 shot cold Suntory Toki whisky
- Shichimi salt (recipe follows)
- Watermelon slice
- 1 can Sapporo beer, chilled
- Serve the shot of cold Suntory Toki topped by a shichimi salt-sprinkled watermelon slice and accompanied by a can of cold Sapporo beer.
Shichimi Salt (makes 1 cup)
- ½ cup shichimi togarashi
- ½ cup Maldon salt
- Zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips with a peeler or paring knife
- Combine all ingredients using a mortar and pestle.
- Transfer into an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-cup container and store in the pantry for up to 1 year.
The PB&J Shot
A simple two-ingredient combo, this shot brings back nostalgic memories of childhood lunches. But don’t be fooled: This recipe packs a punch. A combination of peanut butter-flavored whiskey and raspberry liqueur, the final result is sweet yet balanced in flavor.
- ¾ ounce peanut butter whiskey (such as Skrewball)
- ¾ ounce raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord)
- Garnish (optional): raspberries
- Combine whiskey and Chambord in a shot glass
- Garnish with three skewered raspberries.
The Classic Snaquiri
Known as a classic bartender’s handshake shot, the Snaquiri is a mini Daiquiri meant for shooting in one sip. A lower-ABV substitute for a classic tequila shot, a Snaquiri is a lighter way to keep the party going. This recipe, from tiki expert Shannon Mustipher, contains everything you love about the Daiquiri, just in a smaller package.
- 2 ounces aged white rum
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ – ¾ ounce simple syrup, adjusted for taste
Combine all in a shaker with ice, shake, and strain into desired vessel.
Garnish with fresh grated lime zest, then serve.
Simplify your shooter game with this one-ingredient staple from Newport, R.I. The local bartender’s handshake drink is simply a shortie of Grand Marnier orange liqueur in a shot glass. It may not be the most complex shooter on this list, but the “GrandMa” is an industry darling that’s here to stay.
- ¾ ounce Grand Marnier
- Pour into a shot glass and enjoy.
Lower East Side bar Double Chicken Please is known for its experimental cocktail list and unique takes on the classics. The DCP shot is sweet and smoky, with flavors of shiso, calamansi lime, and sour plum.
- ½ ounce shiso-infused Ilegal Mezcal Joven
- ¼ ounce calamansi lime juice
- 1 ounce Taiwanese sour plum juice
- Combine all ingredients and strain to remove any pulp.
- Pour into a shot glass.