In the calculated, closed-door brainstorm sessions in the country's most powerful liquor conglomerates, there's a name that elicits equal parts fear & ethyl-soaked admiration. You know it; your favorite bartender knows it; your kid brother who just turned 21 knows it: Fireball.
The cinnamon whisky liqueur has taken American happy hours and house parties by storm in the last decade, propelled by its friendly Big Red embrace and lower-than-normal ABV (it clocks in around 66-proof, whereas true whiskeys hover between 80 & 100). In his excellent Businessweek profile of Fireball's rise, Devin Leonard describes the spicy orange elixir as a "challenge shot" -- one that inspires the same "what-the-hell" bravado in casual drinkers that Jaegermeister did in the '90s & early aughts. And while there are scant few challengers to Fireball's current seat on the national throne, there are drinking communities across the country with their own regional challenge shots. Sometimes delicious, sometimes disgusting, each of these beverages is so beloved by its constituents, its place in the local drinking canon is cemented -- no matter how hot Fireball's flame burns.
From San Francisco, to New Orleans, to the salty shores of New England, these are America's favorite regional challenge shots (plus one from Canada, because why not?).