Food & Drink

14 Bartenders Reveal Their Go-To Shots

If you’re a loyal customer at your local neighborhood bar, chances are you’ve done shots with the bartender on more than one occasion. This ritual of being a regular got us thinking about what our friends behind the stick prefer to knock back when they take shots—or what they make when someone asks them to get creative. Here, 14 bartenders reveal their favorite shots, and some of the answers might surprise you.


“If I'm behind the bar: salted Cynar. While I want to show respect to a guest who appreciates my work enough to buy me a shot, I still have a long night ahead of me, and so I typically reach for an amaro to keep it low-ABV. And the salt, woah, let me tell you: Three dashes of saline solution (or a shake or two of a salt shaker if you don't have saline in stock) just completely opens up the Cynar and rounds it out. You’re welcome.” — Cat Cannon, Federal Galley

“I've always been a fan of what came to be known as a ‘Jimbo Shot.’ It is a combination of some sort of amaro (Meletti is a favorite) and rye, let’s say Rittenhouse. The amaro really helps round out the spice from the rye.” — Aaron Blakely, Yves

“I currently do not have a go-to shot because I abstain from alcohol and have always abstained from drinking behind the bar. When I did drink, if it was a special occasion, I would have chosen either Fernet Branca or an inexpensive but quality whiskey such as Old Granddad.” — Griffin Elliot, Swift & Sons

Cocktail Shots

“I never accept shots when people offer them, but if someone asks me to make a creative shot for them, I like to make a floral twist on a Lemon Drop! One ounce Tito’s, a half-ounce elderflower liqueur, a half-ounce liqueur de violette, a half-ounce lemon juice and a dash of lavender bitters. Fun, pink and flirty for the girls!” — Brittany Lorgren, Barcelona Wine Bar Fairfield

“Mini Daiquiris—aka Snaquiris—are my favorite to make if given a non-specific request for shots. If we're talking straight booze, then Four Roses Bonded.” — Tim Garso, Galley Group

Green Chartreuse

“Definitely a shot of Green Chartreuse with a root beer back. I'm known for this being my drink. Not only are the flavors complementary, but they were both also invented by monks. Check it out.” — Russell Davis, Academia

“Choosing your favorite shot is like choosing your favorite child—sure, we all know we have one, but no one is willing to admit it. For the most part, if I'm busy, I'll just reach for the closest decent whiskey—keyword being decent. But if it's a slower night and I have a rapport going with a guest who wants to buy me a shot, I'm reaching for the Green Chartreuse. I love the herbaceousness of it and the fact that it's 110 proof. Also, this is my go-to anytime I start to feel a cold coming on because it has more than 100 herbs in it, so I take that to mean that it's good for you.” — Milos Stevanovic, Commons Club at Virgin Hotels Chicago


“My go-to shot is the Ferrari: equal parts Fernet and Campari. It’s a bittersweet ride, so buckle your seatbelt.” — Zack O’Leary, Barcelona Wine Bar New Haven

“A Ferrari [for customers], or for myself, dark rum like Gosling's or Myers.” — Adam Demerath, Upland

Key Lime Pie Shot

 “The general consensus for a go-to shot in New Orleans is Jameson or Fireball. If you are going for the ‘wow factor,’ my favorite shot is a Key Lime Pie shot made with Licor 43, lime juice, simple syrup and cream.” — Andrew Babin, Public Belt at Hilton New Orleans Riverside

“A Key Lime Pie Shot is Florida-inspired, friendly and approachable for everyone.” — Andre Sousa, Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops


 “Casa Mariol Vermut with an orange peel expression. It’s tasty and low-ABV, so someone who’s had a couple drinks can take a shot without being too intoxicated. It’s a digestif, so it relaxes the digestive tract and allows the guest to experience a spirit they most likely have only ever had in a Manhattan.” — Seth Hirvay, Barcelona Wine Bar Waypointe


“An Angostura bitters shot because I’m a bitter guy.” — Mario Salas, L.A. Jackson


“Definitely tequila. It always puts a pep in your step!” — Peter Vestinos, AceBounce