On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe discuss the popularity of themed shots like the Green Tea shot. The three debate why themed shots have a much larger audience than one may think, how they encompass a larger age range than one might expect, and why certain bars specialize in them.
For this Friday’s tasting, your hosts try Green Tea shots for themselves. Tune in for more.
Or Check Out the Conversation Here
Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter.
Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.
Zach Geballe: And in Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.
A: And it’s the Friday VinePair Podcast! Let’s get it.
J: Adam is bringing a lot of energy today.
Z: Friday energy.
A: That’s right. Because we’re talking about shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, everybody!
J: It’s our quarterly shots podcast.
A: Yeah. But these are not the same shots.
J: These are different.
A: These are different shots.
J: What shots?
A: These are themed shots. Ones that have names that I don’t feel like I can say anymore on the podcast.
Z: Well, like the Birthday Cake shot. That’s a great comparison for this one.
Z: Wholesome. Who could say anything bad about Birthday Cakes?
A: What is the brain one? The bloody brains or the…
J: Oh my God. I’ve never heard of that.
A: The Brain Hemorrhage. The Brain Hemorrhage.
Z: Scooby Snack. The Duck Fart.
A: Agh. I don’t know the Duck Fart.
J: I’ve never heard of any of these.
A: Or a Scooby Snack.
J: OK, how about the B-52?
Z: Joanna, what do you do with your time?
J: I’ve taken a Birthday shot. And there are some others where people have gotten them and I’ve had one, but I cannot say I’ve ever really been the shot orderer of my friend group. I was always the DD, pretty much.
A: Wah wah wah…
J: OK. Sorry.
A: So, first of all.
Z: I will tell you that the majority of my familiarity with these shots was working as a bartender.
J: I bet, yeah.
Z: I mean, well, I basically never bartended in a place where I was called upon to make this shot very often, because I either bartended in a very, very, very high-paced, essentially nightclub bar, where all I ever made were mixed drinks, so.
Z: This is my one bartending job in New York for six months in college. It was absolutely wild. I worked mostly one night a week, because that was all I could take. It was wild. And a lot of rum and Cokes, vodka crans, that kind of thing.
J: Were you at Marquee?
Z: No. What was that place called?
A: 1 Oak?
Z: I am too old to remember the name of the bar I worked in.
J: Marquee’s the only club name I know. I think it’s still open.
A: It is.
Z: You learned this just from listening to Jake’s podcast?
J: I went there one time. It was awful.
Z: No, this bar no longer exists. I am sure of that, that this place no longer exists. But anyway, the point is, that wasn’t really a place where people would order shots because we were like, “No. We don’t have time.” It was literally just what could you make in eight seconds or less?
Z: Someone ordered a Martini once a night. And I was like, “F*ck you. Here’s some cold vodka.” And then, in Seattle, I bartended mostly in places that there were restaurants. So there weren’t places where people would touch shots very often. But they would sometimes. You’d have birthday parties come in and people would want a round of shots at the beginning or at the end of their night. And so, people would call these things. And, I will be completely honest, I definitely did not have them all committed to memory the way I would’ve if I worked in a certain bar, which I think does, maybe not, specialize in shots. Well, there are probably some that specialize, but that definitely, you’re getting these things called to you every night. But I was always like, when you’re working in a restaurant bar, as long as it’s not crazy busy, the table that orders shots you’re like, “All right. Sure. This sounds fun.”
Z: I can make you eight Lemon Drop shots. That sounds great.
J: I’m always fascinated by what finds its way into these shots, too, though. They’re always the weirdest combinations of things.
A: Do you think that these were invented in the ‘80s? Where did they all come from?
Z: No. They were invented more recently by bars that needed to get rid of all the sh*t they bought in the ‘80s. I’m serious. I am not joking here. I mean, it’s funny, but I think a lot of these shots were like, “How do I get rid of a product that otherwise is never going to move?”
J: Yeah. All that peach schnapps.
Z: Exactly. Your Goldschläger. What are you doing with your bottle of Goldschläger? Shots, that’s it.
A: Wait, what goes in Goldschläger shots?
Z: Oh God, what is that one? Some few of you in the audience are screaming into the void at me for not remembering. I will think of it eventually.
J: I thought people just shoot it.
A: No, it definitely goes into a shot.
J: Oh, like a Cinnamon Toast Crunch shot.
A: Yeah. Brain Hemorrhage. It’s the only one I know.
A: That’s PC. And so, I mean, I feel like…
J: Why are we talking about this?
A: I mean, well, because my question here is, when do you, as a drinker, start drinking these? I think it’s when you’re 18. I know that that’s not legal, but I feel like you drink these themed shots only at that time. And the reason we’re talking about this is because there’s a specific shot that one of our writers thinks is cheugy.
J: But it’s trending on the internet.
A: It’s trending on the internet.
J: It’s trending on TikTok.
A: But she thinks only by millennials. But I just think that’s because she doesn’t want to accept that it’s a Gen Z shot, because I’ve never heard of it before.
J: Me neither.
A: It’s a total Gen Z shot. And I think that this specific person on our staff just doesn’t want to admit how cheugy they actually are.
Z: I mean, if you’re going to do this, you might as well just call Katie out.
Z: I mean, we’re going to link to the piece in the description. People are going to be able to figure this out very quickly.
J: Yeah. You guys got to read this piece and let us know what you think.
A: So it’s the Green Tea shot, right?
A: I mean, how do certain shots become popular? I’d never heard of this before, but it was interesting that about half the office had and half the office hadn’t.
J: Yes. So I agree with you that these shots come out of… Or, that they’re young people shots, because they often are meant to not taste like alcohol.
J: Or peanut butter and jelly.
A: Peanut butter and jelly.
Z: Let me give you guys a little bit of insight here.
A: Oh, please.
Z: People of all ages like to get drunk without tasting alcohol.
J: Oh, that’s a good point.
Z: It is not a young person exclusive thing. And I think this is one of the… Again, talking about my age, where I-
A: But I think this is a thing where you don’t order them anymore because the names are ridiculous.
Z: Maybe. I don’t know. The Green Tea shot isn’t ridiculous.
A: I guess.
Z: I think that doesn’t come across to me as something that someone would be embarrassed to order. But like I was saying, for me, I would say that the vast majority of people I made shots for in my bartending career were older than me. And I was younger then. But obviously, I was in my 20s and people in their 30s and 40s were ordering shots because people at those ages and older, like I said, want to do a shot, and they don’t want to do a shot of straight whiskey. I mean, some people do, for sure. Some people would get tequila shots. Obviously, those are also very popular. But I think there is a big demographic that is not… Or I should say, there’s a big audience that is not confined to any one particular generation that likes the idea of drinking something that tastes good to them, maybe precisely because it doesn’t taste like alcohol, but it is definitely alcoholic. And, I don’t think that is a generational thing.
A: Right. Are these shots usually… What’s the ABV of most of these shots?
Z: High, typically.
J: Oh, really?
Z: Well, I think it depends on what you’re talking about.
Z: I think the one that we’re going to try is actually on the low side, because it incorporates an ingredient that isn’t alcoholic. But, I think a lot of the ones that I’ve made are multiple different liqueurs or spirits mixed together. And then, I’m not saying it’s as high as taking a shot of overproof rum. Obviously, that’s going to be a really, really, really, really, really high-alcohol shot. But it’s, I don’t think, meaningfully less than taking a shot of pick your spirit. I mean, maybe a tiny bit, maybe they’re clocking in at 35 ABV or 30, as opposed to 40 or 45, but it’s not having a shot of wine.
A: Right. And I mean, I guess, the other benefit of these shots, right, is you can charge a premium for them.
Z: For sure.
Z: And they look cool, some of them.
J: And people always order multiple rounds.
A: Yes. Right. It’s like, “I’ll take another round, another round, another round.”
Z: The other piece of this, and to come back to something here that’s important too, is in the certain bar, it’s really not that hard to make six or eight of them at once. What you’re going for in those spots is, you want someone who comes up and says, “I want eight Green Tea shots.” Not, “I want eight separate drinks that all have to be made individually to different specs.”
A: Right. Right.
Z: And, for volume bars, shots are fantastic because you can charge cocktail prices, practically, for them.
Z: And, they can be made quickly and relatively easily by one bartender.
A: Right. And the nature of the shot, the person consumes it quickly and orders something else.
Z: Exactly. That too.
J: Yeah. And that’s part of Katie’s piece as well.
J: Because it was reported. And, there are a number of bars who make most of their business based off of shots.
A: But she never proved that it was cheugy.
J: No, that was her take.
A: Yes. Katie. I bet Katie’s secretly ordering Green Tea shots. Just cheugy-ing it up. So what is the last theme shot that either of you ordered?
Z: Ordered or had? Because I made shots not that long ago.
A: Either. Either ordered or had.
J: Oh God, it must have been a Birthday Cake shot.
A: Birthday Cake?
A: Yeah, Birthday Cake.
J: Years and years ago, at this point.
A: Years and years ago.
J: Yeah. Well, what about you, Adam?
A: Peanut Butter and Jelly.
J: OK. Last weekend or?
A: When we did it on the podcast. Boom! What about you, Zach?
Z: So, I actually made a round of, I guess, you would call them, they were essentially… I’m not sure they have a technical name, because I was improvising. But, as mentioned a couple of podcasts ago, I had a big family reunion and some of my cousins and I were enjoying the end of our evening as you would want to do. And, I guess, they were practically a Duck Fart, which is basically Kahlúa, Baileys, and whiskey. This was-
A: Why is it called a Duck Fart?
Z: Adam, what am I? I know what the drink is. Don’t ask me where the name comes from. On the last podcast, I knew where dog days came from. Not so sure about the description. Maybe there’s a Dog Days shot, we should look into that. So, I had to modify it, because we didn’t have Kahlúa, we had Baileys, and we had whiskey, and I actually had to use basically some coffee liqueur… Or sorry, not coffee liqueur, some coffee that was in some simple syrup, but whatever, it was close enough. Didn’t quite float the way I wanted it to. But, I’d also been drinking some wine beforehand, so maybe my bartending skills were not absolutely premium. But, that’s how it goes.
A: And have you ever had a Green Tea shot?
Z: I have not. I’m looking forward to mine.
A: I’m so curious. So, it’s called a Green Tea shot because it tastes like green tea, correct?
J: It’s meant to taste like green tea. It has no green tea in it. This is actually a Jameson shot.
A: Right. And people think Jameson’s who created it. Yeah.
J: Yeah, correct. So, equal parts Jameson, peach schnapps, and sour mix. And I guess, some people also do a little splash of lemon lime soda on top. I did not do that for us, I’m sorry.
A: So, I will say on initial aroma, it smells like Arizona green tea.
Z: That is an excellent call. Yep.
A: If you’re looking for real green tea matcha or something, it’s not there. This smells like Arizona green tea. For sure. I’m curious.
Z: All right. I’m going to take mine.
A: I’m taking it.
Z: I’m doing it all in one.
J: Oh, you’re shooting it.
Z: I know Joanna loves to sip her shots.
J: I certainly did.
Z: But some of us here have some style.
A: Shots fired. Wow.
Z: No, shot swallowed. Woo. That’s actually pretty good.
A: I see why people like it.
A: I do.
A: Yeah. I don’t think it’s cheugy, but I see why people like it.
J: It’s very peach schnapps forward.
A: It’s very peach schnapps forward.
J: But you don’t really get the whiskey too much.
A: I feel like it’s a perfect Gen Z shot.
Z: You are really hung up on this, Adam.
J: It’s just a generational battle for Adam.
A: It’s just funny, because first of all, come on. Second of all, I don’t know, I just don’t remember coming up on and being like, “Gen X, they’re so blah, blah, blah.” I didn’t do that. It’s like, Gen Z has some real beef they got to get out of their systems.
Z: Yeah. Well, I think it’s-
J: Lots of grievances.
A: Lots of grievances from that generation.
Z: Well, isn’t it an off-again, on-again thing. Our grievances as millennials are all with boomers, with our parents.
A: No, Gen Z has the same grievances.
Z: Well, that’s another podcast.
Z: But, I feel like Gen Z and Gen X should go at it more. They should have more beef with one another.
A: Well, but Gen Z are the kids of Gen X for the most part.
Z: Yeah, exactly. Have beef with your parents, not with your older whatever.
J: Yeah, that’s how it works.
A: Yeah, that’s how it works. Skipping them.
Z: We didn’t get into it with a Silent Generation or whatever.
A: The Silent Generation.
J: That’s a good thing.
A: I love it.
Z: I don’t know. I think that might actually be old. I’m not actually sure where that falls in. I just know it exists.
A: I like this, though. I mean, I would not order it again because I don’t order these shots. But if it was ordered for me, I would take it.
J: You’d shoot it. Well, you have to shoot whatever’s ordered for you.
A: Oh, that’s required? That’s something that is in the contract of shot ordering, that if someone orders you shot, you have to take it?
A: Actually, that’s true.
J: There are those people who don’t, or they shoot it, or spit it out, or dump it.
A: I don’t like those people.
A: Well, I will tell you… I told my West Point story already, correct? About the Wild Turkey shots.
J: Oh, I don’t know it exactly.
Z: At the military academy?
A: A few weeks ago, I was up in the Hudson Valley. And, we stayed at the hotel at West Point called The Thayer, it’s this historic hotel. I was really curious. It was when I went to see Paul Brady.
J: I remember this. Yes.
A: And at night, when we got back to the hotel, I really wanted to check out the bar, because it was this military bar and there were cadets there and other people, including a woman wearing a full sequin American flag outfit.
A: And we went down to the bar, myself and my friend Tyler. And we ordered shots, because we thought that’s what we should do. And, we ordered Wild Turkey. And Tyler sipped his shot. And the bartender literally called him out and said, “Is this your first shot?”
A: And Tyler’s like, “No, man. I’m just pacing myself.” He goes, “No, I think this is your first shot. And you don’t know how to take one. The way you take one is you take the whole thing like your friend did.” It made him feel so bad.
Z: Good thing Joanna wasn’t there.
J: Yeah. That’s pretty embarrassing.
A: Yeah, and that was my experience.
J: OK. For these purposes I sip the shot. But, when I’m out and a shot is given to me, I shoot it.
Z: OK. OK. I’m going to have to confirm this in-person next time we’re in the same place, Joanna.
J: Fair. Order me a Duck Fart.
Z: We will do a live show and start it off with some shots, just to get things rolling.
A: I will never get over that there’s a shot called a Duck Fart.
J: There’s also Duck Fart #2. I’m looking this up.
A: This is amazing. Well, I would like to know if you do drink themed shots, let us know. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
J: Tell us which ones.
A: What is your favorite shot? And guess what? If we get enough emails about themed shots, we will take every single one of them.
Z: Not in a row. I have to take care of children after this.
A: Every single one of them.
Z: Oh my God.
A: I’m not promising when, but if you email in a shot and explain why you like it, we’ll take it.
J: Zach will take it.
A: Yeah, and tell us who your favorite host is.
J: Joaana will sip in it.
A: I won’t tell you why we’re asking you that question.
Z: Adam will tell you why it’s not cheugy, or is. And I will drink it. It sounds like a plan.
A: Yeah, let’s do it.
J: I love it.
A: I’m very curious. email@example.com. See you guys Monday.
J: Have a great weekend.
Z: Sounds great.
Thanks so much for listening to the VinePair Podcast, the flagship podcast of the VinePair Podcast Network. If you love listening to this show, or even if you don’t, but I really hope that you do, as much as we really do love making it, then please drop us a review or a rating wherever it is that you get your podcast, whether that be iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere. If you are listening to this on a device right now, through an app, however you got this audio, please drop a review. It really helps everyone else discover the show.
And now for some totally awesome credits. So the VinePair Podcast is recorded in our New York City headquarters, and in Seattle, Wash., in Zach Geballe’s basement. It is recorded by Zach, mastered and produced by Zach. He loves all the credit. Keep giving it to him. Drop his name in the reviews. He’s going to love hearing how much you love him. It is also recorded in New York City by our tastings director, Keith Beavers, who is the managing director of the entire VinePair Podcast Network.
Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.