It’s a band! It’s a plane! It’s… the B-52 Cocktail! Since its appearance in the 70s, debate still surrounds the true origin of this cocktail’s name. Nevertheless, whether it was named after an American long-range bomber or a new wave band from Georgia, this drink’s fame quickly soared to the top of the charts and remains one of the most popular shooter-style cocktails today.
The B-52 is in the family of Pousse-Café cocktails, where multiple layers of alcohol are carefully poured into a glass, each of the layers remaining separated due their differences in specific gravity, or density. Liqueurs with a heavier specific gravity are poured first, followed by increasingly lighter layers (Kahlua weighs in at 1.15, Bailey’s at 1.05 and Grand Marnier at 1.03). In French, Pousse-Café means literally “push coffee” and it’s no surprise that cocktails of this type are often served after dinner with, or right after coffee.
Coffee-flavored Kahlua is a classic match for Bailey’s, and these two anchors are topped with the fruity orange essence of Grand Marnier. There are some who prefer to sip this cocktail, but since it was designed to be a shooter we find the B-52 best enjoyed as a one-shot-wonder to best experience this delightful trio of flavors. Flaming the top layer of Grand Marnier is optional, and usually done not just for showy effect but also to produce some pleasant smoky orange aromas. A Flaming B-52 is either extinguished right before drinking, or else sipped carefully and quickly from the bottom of the glass through a long metal straw. Always be careful when mixing cocktails and fire, and watch you don’t burn down the Love Shack.
- 1 part Kahlua
- 1 Part Bailey's Irish Cream
- 1 Part Grand Marnier