We Asked 10 Bartenders: What’s the Trendiest Shot to Order Right Now?

Shots are the bar scene’s greatest equalizer. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a fancy craft cocktail spot serving $20 Negroni riffs or a seedy dive bar with sticky floors and the faint smell of urine wafting through the air: Shot glasses are always on hand, waiting to be filled.

That’s because a shot is more than a quick blast of liquor to lips. Its purposes vary: It can be a celebration of good news, a bartender’s friendly handshake, or an efficient means of catching a buzz before or during a night of revelry (and then responsibly ordering a ride share). This means shots are always in vogue.

What’s in the glass ebbs and flows, depending on trends and guest preferences. It could be a slug of something good, bold, or, in the case of something like Malort, a challenge. It can also be a build of two spirits that cohabitate rather well in cramped quarters. Of course, some shots are more popular than others.

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Here, we asked 10 bartenders which shots are capturing the most attention in their bars.

The trendiest shots right now, according to bartenders:

  • Fernet Branca
  • Hard Start
  • Mezcal and Amaro Angelino
  • Rye-Nar
  • Forghetti
  • Dickel whiskey and shot of au jus
  • Vermouth
  • Green Tea
  • Bourbon
  • Tequila
  • Aromatized wine
  • Bottled-in-bond rye
  • St. Theresa 1796 and Amaro Montenegro
  • Mezcal, Branca Menta, and a dash of chocolate bitters
  • Cold Choke

“Shots are usually left up to us when ordered. But if folks are specific, I’d say it’s typically Fernet Branca or a Hard Start: half Fernet Branca, half Branca Menta. They’re strong shots if you’re not used to them. [They] make me think back to when I was a baby bartender and started visiting bars with a friend. We’d usually offer to buy a round of shots for whoever was serving us, and when asked if we had a preference, the response would be, ‘whatever you think would hurt the most.’” —AJ Delgra, bartender, Amor y Amargo, NYC

“San Diego is a big mezcal city with our proximity to Mexico and all. Lately, I’ve been getting a number of calls for mezcal and Amaro Angeleno splits. A nice Espadin from Madre pairs well with the citrus-forward bitterness of Angeleno, and makes for a great intro to both spirits. For guests looking for a sweeter version, a little pineapple goes a long way as a third component.” —Cameron O’Brien, bartender, Swan Bar, San Diego

“Shooting Branca Menta is the way to go! Fernet lovers are a special breed, and I’m excited to see that particular label in the fernet family gaining traction among customers. If you order that from me at the bar, we’re instant friends! Pro tip: Don’t forget to tap your glass on the bar when you’re finished.” —Amanda Phelps, beverage manager, Hotel Emeline/Frannie and the Fox, Charleston, S.C.

“Straight up 50/50s are common. Recently, the popular ones have been the Rye-Nar, which is a 50/50 of rye whiskey and Cynar; the Forghetti with fernet and Borghetti; and the Hard-Start, which is Fernet Branca and Branca Menta. Amaro 50/50 shots will always be in vogue. As far as the shot I’m pouring the most? We’re known for George Dickel Sour Mash served with a back of hot au jus. It never fails.” —Dylan Lopez, bartender, Pony Up, Denver

“Out of all of the shots that get ordered, I would say vermouth has really taken our bar by storm. The delicacy of this fortified wine is really driving guests to consume them more as shots, whether it’s a sweet vermouth or a dry vermouth. When they’re not ordering that, the shots depend on age. Newer drinkers are inclined to order Green Tea shots, while more seasoned drinkers will order single shots of stronger libations like bourbon or tequila.” —Genesis Cruz, head bartender, Bar Belly, NYC

“It could be due to the service industry-heavy clientele at our bar, but lately, we’ve been serving a lot of aromatized and fortified wine shots. I think what many of us have figured out is that while taking a group shot is great for breaking the ice and promoting inclusion, it runs the risk of getting out of hand. A nice sherry or vermouth shot helps carry the party forward without pushing anyone beyond their limits. It’s also great for the staff. It allows us to participate and build rapport with guests without worry of over-imbibing behind the stick.” —Andy Pratt, lead bartender, Dovetail Bar, New Orleans

“I’ve started seeing bottled-in-bond rye shots being ordered more frequently at my bar and at the bars I go to. I think it’s a little multifaceted. Bottled-in bond [spirits] typically present more bang for your buck in most cases, punching far above their price point. Further, rye whiskeys are having a moment with guests looking for something a little different than the standard bourbons that have been so popular.” —Connor Gillette, senior bar manager, The Alida Hotel, Savannah, Ga.

“Split-based shots are still popular for us. Our go-to is a 50/50 of rum and amaro. Typically, this is Santa Teresa 1796 rum and Amaro Montenegro amaro, which surprises most with just how good it is! We call it either the Rum House shot or S&M.” —Nick Jackson, head bartender, The Rum House, NYC

“A couple of guys at the bar recently put together a little house shot for us that the regulars are all in on called Winters is Coming. It’s 50/50 mezcal and Branca Menta with a dash of chocolate bitters. Named after our bar manager Andrew Winters, the shot has a smoky, petrol kick from the mezcal and then finishes with a smooth, minty sweetness. It’s approachable, festive, and has even turned some people on to fernet and mezcal who aren’t adventurous drinkers. It’s always fun to see a shot trending that you wouldn’t think would taste good and all of a sudden everyone is ordering them.” —Daniel Boothe, bartender, Club 616, Santa Ana, Calif.

“When it comes to trendy shots, the options are endless. However, I have seen a big increase in interest for amaro-related shots over the past year or so — specifically, the Cold Choke. This shot of equal-parts Cynar and cold brew has really been on the rise. With stunning bitterness and a nice, round coffee presence, this is the perfect post-dinner shot. It’s also the perfect introduction to amaro for people who are curious but don’t want to sip straight amaro. Leave your Lemon Drops and Vegas Bombs at the door; the Cold Choke is here to stay.” —Delena Humble-Fischer, beverage director/bar manager, First & Last, Phoenix