A lot of noise has been made in recent years about cocktail culture—small-batch-rum this and clarified-hand-carved-ice that—but there’s one aspect of drinking many of us have forgotten about amid the movement: shots. While we’ve all been sipping perfectly chilled daiquiris and tippling elegantly stirred martinis, we’ve simply resorted to things like whiskey or tequila to turbo-charge our nights. And it’s nearly the opposite for novice drinkers, who often tend toward overly sweet, inelegantly named novelty shots (read: the Redheaded Slut, the Buttery Nipple). And those, friends, are recipes for a wicked hangover.
In truth, there’s no need feel driven to boredom or, worse, barfdom when your crew calls for shots. Lately, pro bartenders have begun refining the concept of shots, using ingredients like amari (bitter, traditionally Italian liqueurs) or lesser-used cordials or apéritifs to elevate these one-ounce concoctions. Ahead, we’ve followed their lead, taking inspiration from mixology to create a scant handful of shots that are decidedly more “adult” than, say, a Dirty Girl Scout, and more nuanced than a simple shot of Fireball. What’s more, you can easily order any of the following at a well-stocked bar or make them at home.