Layered drink named after The B-52s

Courtesy photo

This week’s column, I will revisit a popular shot from the days of yore when I used to be a bartender. While it still appears on some bar menus across the land, it is not as popular as it once was, which is a shame. I refer to the B-52.

The B-52 is a layered shot that takes time to construct (maybe that’s why it is not as popular?) and consists of Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier – layered in that order.

While you might assume it is named after the B-52 bomber from World War II, it is actually named after the band, The B-52s, in Alberta Canada by a bartender and fan of the group, sometime in the 1970s. The layering in that order is due to physics – that is, the denser liquid goes in first, then the next, then the lightest.

Because no ice is used in its preparation, back in the day, we would keep those ingredients refrigerated so the shots were still served cold. And for a little more pizzazz, we would sometimes float a fourth ingredient – 151 rum – and light in on fire upon serving. This was referred to as a Flaming B-52 (pictured).

Soon, other variations emerged, usually substituting one of the liquers. My favorite ones were:

B-51: Frangelico instead of the Grand Marnier
B-53: Sambuca instead of the Bailey’s Irish Cream
B-54: Amaretto instead of the Grand Marnier
B-57: Peppermint Schnapps instead of the Bailey’s Irish Cream
B-52 in the Desert: Tequila instead of the Bailey’s Irish Cream.

But none of the above is equal in taste and smoothness as the original. Let’s bring it back and start ordering them at your favorite bars – you might have to explain to newer bartenders how to make it.