Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Drink Like a Bartender: Welcome Shots


“Industry shots have been a part of the culture as far back as I can remember,” says Kevin Diedrich, general manager and partner of Pacific Cocktail Haven in San Francisco. Sharing a shot with fellow bartenders or restaurant folks who come to visit, he explains, is “a gesture of hospitality from the staff to our guests and friends, and a way for us to join into the festivities and connect with our friends while working.”

“Whether it’s at the beginning of the night to get the ball rolling or something mid-night to get the energy level back up,” Carlton Dunlap of Americano in Portland says, the shots are a “drinkable assertion that ‘yes, we are going to have fun tonight and no one here is going to f*** that up.’” Because the shots are always done in a group, Dunlap notes, “It’s a bonding experience. These people, this place, this night: We are all in it together.”

At Americano, Dunlap’s menu offers a collection of amaro-based concoctions, served as shots in little glass boots. Customers choose from equal parts Braulio and Cappelletti, Amaro Nardini and Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, or Meletti Bitter and Amaro Sfumato. But when industry friends come in, Dunlap often pours them a taste of a lesser-known vermouth or aperitif instead. “It's a chance to show them something new that they can then take back to their respective bars and play with. It’s about learning together as a community.” Morgan Schick of Trick Dog in San Francisco has another reason for pouring friends and family shots of vermouth or sherry: “If you are sharing many shots with pals over the course of the night, drinking something lower-proof makes a lot of sense.” But if the night calls for something stronger, Trick Dog also offers a shot from the other end of the ABV spectrum—a homemade version of Fireball, in which bourbon and the spicy, clove-and-cinnamon laced Czech liqueur Becherovka mingle with a rich cinnamon syrup.

Often the best shot to share with friends is a silly one that's as fun to order as it is to drink. Dunlap favors the “James Franco” (a mix of Jameson and Frangelico). “It tastes like nutty butterscotch, and it’s delicious,” he says. Diedrich describes his “welcome shot” for industry guests at PCH as “a cheeky sake shooter”—it’s a mix of junmai sake, Plantation Pineapple Rum, lime and sugar, poured into shiny little pineapple shot glasses. It’s hard not to have fun when you’re drinking from pineapple shot glasses.

Here, three recipes for industry shots to make for your own inner circle.

They don’t carry Fireball at Trick Dog in San Francisco. “But we do occasionally get calls for it, so we figured we'd make our own,” says Morgan Schick, the bar’s creative director. “It started out as an on-the-fly recipe and proved popular enough that we put it on the menu.” Morgan notes that it’s the perfect Friday night shot: “The high proof and the heat from the cinnamon get you moving.”

The Essentials

Cinnamon Syrup
The logo at Pacific Cocktail Haven in San Francisco is a pineapple—and the space was originally the home of the very first Williams-Sonoma store (whose logo is also a pineapple)—so Kevin Diedrich pours this welcome shot into miniature pineapple glasses. “It seemed only right that the shot had a pineapple flavor to it,” he notes, saying he balances the dark pineapple rum and sake’s melon-like flavors with bracing citrus, “then a tad of anise and herbal notes from Peychaud's bitters.”

The Essentials

Pineapple Rum
Lime Juice
This tongue-in-cheek, dessert-like shot is rich, nutty, and served at room temperature. “I'm from Texas,” notes Carlton Dunlap of Americano. “Whenever someone would ask how we wanted our tequila, our response would be ‘hot and nekkid (naked).’ Not chilled, no salt, no lime. Same applies here.”

The Essentials

Jameson Irish Whiskey

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