Short and Sweet – The Virtue of Cocktail Shots

Where shots were once only within the scope of college kids on spring break and hard-partying groups wanting to get drunk quickly, some bartenders and mixologists now see them as an opening into a new realm of sophisticated, or at least innovative drinks. Basically mini-craft cocktails, shots are stealing the stage in today’s pioneering bars.

The Virtues of the Micro-Libation

There is much to be said for drinking your alcohol in shot form. When taken alone shots are the hallmark of the no-nonsense drinker, but when taken with a group of friends they become an activity in and of themselves. Shots have a communal effect on whoever is drinking them, bringing together strangers, friends, and acquaintances alike. If not enjoyed they are gone in a sip and forgotten in an instant, and they are half the investment of a full-sized cocktail.

Overcoming the Stigma

Despite the benefits of drinking in this fashion, shots have been stigmatized as being overly-sweet drinks with vulgar names, clearly designed for the novice drinker. Despite this negativity, over the past few years establishments across the country, from hotels and restaurants to dive bars, have been crafting micro-libations to elevate the shot to new heights. 

It may come as a surprise to you that pickles and pickle juice have a long history as drink chasers. That may be why the most famous of these new shots to emerge in the past two decades is the “Pickleback” a combination of whiskey and pickle juice that is sincerely enjoyed by some and employed as a dare by others.

The Virtues of a Shot

On busy nights many bartenders have begun to utilize the shot as a peace-keeper for patrons that have had to wait a long time before being served. These little shots work in a two-fold manner, firstly calming the restless by reminding them that they are not forgotten and secondly acting as teasers for the full-sized versions that will be available at the end of their wait.

The unifying force that is the craft shot makes the rather pretentious culture that swirls around the world of mixology and craft cocktails more approachable to the typical customer. What may run you upwards of $22 is now condensed into the reasonable $6. It transforms the drinking experience allowing you to try things you may not have been able to afford. The shot has become the fun social toast it was always meant to be. The punctuation in an ordinary night of beers that expands the palates of the consumer and in turn allows establishments to push their menus to new heights.

The shot has certainly found its spot within a safe and enjoyable evening out, allowing guests to have fun doing something together. It offers a joint experience that can be both experimental and educational without costing a fortune. The unfamiliar and exotic just got a lot more accessible and that is all thanks to the shot.

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Hannah Abaffy

Hannah Abaffy

Pastry Chef & Recipe Development

Hannah Abaffy is a pastry chef and an active member of the culinary community. From working in kitchens to developing recipes, and creating menus for restaurants, she has been involved with food in one capacity or another for the past decade. After starting a food history blog, Hannah has been continuously writing and learning about the ever-changing realm of cuisine, its history, and its future. Since then her appetite to learn about and share all things that touch upon the world of food can only be described as voracious.

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