Going out for drinks at a bar is a fun way to unwind and socialize. While cocktails and mixed drinks can be delicious, sometimes you just want a quick, no-fuss shot. Shots are the perfect way to get a concentrated hit of alcohol and flavor. They’re fast, portable, and easy to toss back. But with so many options, how do you know which shots are the best simple go-tos? Here’s a breakdown of some of the top basic shots worth ordering at any bar.
Vodka is one of the most popular base spirits for shots. Known for having a smooth, clean taste, vodka mixes well with other ingredients without overpowering them. Some classic vodka shot choices include:
- Kamikaze – Vodka, triple sec, lime juice
- Lemon Drop – Vodka, lemon juice, sugar
- Vodka Cranberry – Vodka, cranberry juice
- Cosmopolitan – Vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice
Vodka’s neutral flavor profile allows the other ingredients to shine through. Shots like the Kamikaze, Lemon Drop, and Cosmo highlight the tartness of citrus juices. A Vodka Cranberry uses vodka as a base for the sweet tang of cranberry. Vodka shots provide a smooth drinking experience on their own or mixed into a variety of combinations.
As the main ingredient in fun, flavorful margaritas, tequila also makes excellent shots. Traditional tequila shots include:
- Tequila Sunrise – Tequila, orange juice, grenadine
- Paloma – Tequila, grapefruit soda, lime juice
- Tequila Slammer – Tequila, 7UP
- Tequini – Tequila, triple sec, lime juice
These tequila shots incorporate citrus flavors like lime, grapefruit, and orange to complement the herbal, earthy notes of the tequila. The bubbly effervescence of 7UP or grapefruit soda adds a fun fizzing sensation. Tequila shots are ideal when you want something refreshing with Southwest inspired flavors.
Sweet and tropical, rum makes for some seriously delicious shots. Some rummy shot choices are:
- Bay Breeze – Rum, pineapple juice, cranberry juice
- Buttery Nipple – Rum, Irish cream
- Paradise – Rum, blue curacao, orange juice, pineapple juice
- Jamaican Mule – Rum, ginger beer, lime
Rum shots incorporate juices like pineapple, orange, and cranberry to complement the sweet molasses and vanilla notes of the rum. Tropical flavors like coconut are also common. The creaminess of Irish cream balances the rum’s sweetness in shots like the Buttery Nipple. For a refreshing, fizzy option, try mixing rum with ginger beer in a Jamaican Mule.
Whiskey’s warm, vanilla and caramel flavors make it ideal for quintessential bar shots. Some top whiskey shot picks are:
- Irish Car Bomb – Irish whiskey, Irish cream, stout beer
- Flaming Dr. Pepper – Whiskey, amaretto, 151 proof rum (lit on fire)
- Washington Apple – Whiskey, sour apple schnapps
- Whiskey Sour – Whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup
The Irish Car Bomb combines smooth Irish whiskey and cream with the roasted flavors of stout beer. Dr. Pepper gets an alcoholic upgrade when mixed with amaretto and whiskey and lit aflame. Apple schnapps adds tart sweetness to whiskey in the Washington Apple. A classic Whiskey Sour highlights whiskey’s vanilla notes accented by tart lemon and simple syrup.
Herbal, aromatic gin makes for palate-cleansing, botanical shots. Popular gin shots include:
- Lemon Drop – Gin, lemon juice, sugar
- Gimlet – Gin, lime juice, simple syrup
- Gin and Tonic – Gin, tonic water
- French 75 – Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne
The citrus in shots like the Lemon Drop and Gimlet accentuate the botanical flavors of gin. The effervescence of tonic water or champagne in a Gin and Tonic or French 75 adds a refreshing quality. Gin shots with lemon or lime allow the spirit’s juniper and herbaceousness to shine.
When looking for a fast, easy alcoholic shot, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these options. Vodka, tequila, rum, whiskey, and gin all provide their own unique flavors and combinations. Focusing on shots that highlight key ingredients without too many components simplifies ordering at a crowded bar. The next time you want an effortless way to get your drink on, be sure to try one of these popular, basic shots.
|Spirit||Signature Flavors||Recommended Shots|
|Vodka||Smooth, neutral||Kamikaze, Lemon Drop, Vodka Cranberry|
|Tequila||Herbal, earthy||Tequila Sunrise, Paloma, Tequila Slammer|
|Rum||Sweet, tropical||Bay Breeze, Buttery Nipple, Paradise|
|Whiskey||Warm, vanilla||Irish Car Bomb, Flaming Dr. Pepper, Whiskey Sour|
|Gin||Herbaceous, botanical||Lemon Drop, Gimlet, Gin and Tonic|