A few years back, some seismic shift in the universe forced everyone to start craving cinnamon-flavored whiskey. Fireball has been riding the wave ever since, but its reign as prom king of the bar won't last forever. New trendy liquors are already waiting in the wings, and nine of our favorite bartenders are ready to identify them.
Our booze experts made the following picks for the "next Fireball" based on sales, customer response, and old-fashioned intuition. That cinnamon-spiced devil better watch his back, 'cause ancho chile and aloe vera hooches are coming for him.
"The moment I tried Chareau, the aloe vera liqueur, I told the owner Kurt Charron that it would be the next Saint Germain. It’s higher in proof than most liqueurs, it’s not too sweet. It has cucumber, mint -- two things that people go crazy over -- muskmelon, and, of course, aloe vera, which nobody has used yet. And it’s all sourced from farms in Southern California. You can't beat that!" -- Matthew Biancaniello, bartender at large, Los Angeles, CA
"I can tell you what people should be drinking instead of Fireball: good ol’ Becky. That would be Becherovka, a Czech liqueur spiced with cinnamon and clove -- hold the propylene glycol. It's rare that someone asks me for Becky, but I get asked for Fireball pretty often. I don't carry Fireball, so I'll pour them a shot of Becherovka and nine times out of 10 their minds are blown." -- Sam Hernandez, head bartender at DBGB
"Ancho Reyes chile liqueur is going to be the next Fireball. It has great velvety texture like an amaro, soft chocolate notes, and the warming ancho chile spice is just enough heat to put some extra pep in your step. Within the industry it's already coined 'Mexican Fireball' due to the contrast and balance of sweet and spicy flavors. Guests are always curious about the bottle on our backbar at Tico and we direct them to one of our cocktails that has Ancho Reyes as a key component. It's versatile and delicious whether it is served neat, or stirred or shaken in a cocktail." -- Christine Kim, lead bartender at Tico
"Bartenders are so excited about Cynar 70 because it's less than a 40% spirit and still in the amaro family. I think once this is on all bar shelves it really will be a bartender staple. Regular Cynar already is.” -- Pamela Wiznitzer, creative director at Seamstress
Cynar 70 or Mr. Katz's Rock & Rye
"Cynar 70 is a good choice for a Fireball replacement, kind of works as a Jägermeister substitute as well. We've been using Cynar as our house shot that we give to guests for years. It's always fun to surprise people with it if they've never had it before. We also use Mr. Katz's Rock & Rye when people ask for Fireball." -- Jeremy Oertel, head bartender at Donna
Cynar 70, Pedro Ximenez PX Lustau, or a nice vermouth
"Fireball is awful, I'd love to see people drink a digestif, sweet vermouth, or sherry instead. I love Cynar 70 as a digestif, I drink it often. For vermouth, Ransom sweet vermouth or Tempus Fugit Alessio. For sherry, the Pedro Ximenez PX Lustau." -- Gaby Mlynarczyk, beverage director at Birch
"I'm hoping people are getting smarter and not drinking Fireball anymore! I predict people will develop a more sophisticated palate and go for a shot of green Chartreuse. Why? Because it's the elixir of life, made by monks, and it's fancy! I always say it's like liquid speed. I have definitely turned quite a few people on to it." -- Brynn Smith, bar manager at Sotto
"Mezcal is kinda a different style and different scene, but people love it! Ilegal is doing this whole #ashotagainstdonald thing that is really great." -- Ivy Mix, co-owner at Leyenda