Aiming for Profits

By Robert Plotkin

0409sht1Shooters are the Rodney Dangerfield of mixology. They get no respect, which is a pity, because ounce for ounce they pack more marketing potential than most other cocktails and drinks. Granted, marketing shooters may require a bit more effort than others. Recipe names might have to be toned down, suggested glassware may have to be changed. Nevertheless, like color TVs and tax refund checks, shooters have a nearly universal appeal.

For one thing, they’re fun, interesting and contemporary drinks. Since most shooters are served neat or straight up, the quality of their ingredients can be more fully appreciated. And by promoting some of the vast array of shooter recipes available, you can also facilitate the turnover of slower moving inventory and provide customers more ways to use standard brands.

So whether you subscribe to the theory that what people drink in bars on Friday nights is what they look to buy in your store on Saturday, or supplying your clientele with creative ideas on how to use what’s on your shelves drive sales, taking another look at shooters makes good retail sense.


At the onset, the word “shooters” encompasses a large and diverse body of drink recipes; ranging from the elegant and sophisticated to the radically bizarre. Shooters are anything but one-dimensional. Long gone are the days when the breadth of the category consisted of a shot and a beer, or a shot in a beer. Today’s shooters are made with nearly every product on your shelves and cater to every taste imaginable.

Svedka Shooter_S&M copyThe Svedka S&M.


The key is to select recipes that target your clientele’s particular tastes. For a swank clientele, for instance, consider promoting shooters as “neat cocktails,” recipes such as the Grand Alliance, which is equal parts of Disaronno Amaretto, sweet ‘n’ sour and Champagne served in a chilled sherry glass; or the Touque Wrench, which uses Midori, orange juice and Champagne; or the Lobotomy, which is a blend of Disaronno Amaretto, Chambord, pineapple juice and Champagne. Change their names to best suit your crowd and you’ve got some highly promotable specialties.

Because of their great taste and dramatic presentation, layered concoctions are ideal for an upscale clientele. Candidates include the Inverted Nail, which uses Drambuie with Glenfiddich on top; the Caribbean Sunset, a combination of Kahlúa, Chambord and Tia Maria; the Neutron Bomb, which features Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream and butterscotch schnapps; or the Ninja, using Midori, dark crème de cacao and Frangelico.


Most retailers, however, cater to a clientele that are well-acquainted with shooters. The key to whetting their appetites is to promote recipes that feature popular ingredients, such as the Yellow Jacket, a blend of Jägermeister, Baeren Jaeger and Kahlúa; the Mexican Itch, which uses El Tesoro Añejo Tequila, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice in a salted shot glass; and the inflexible Rigor Mortis, which features Absolut Vodka, Disaronno Amaretto and equal parts of orange and pineapple juice.

Our survey of those shooters riding the crest of popularity include the Oatmeal Cookie (Goldschläger, Jägermeister, an Irish cream like Baileys or Carolans and DeKuyper Buttershots Schnapps), the Cement Mixer, (Absolut Citron and an Irish cream like Baileys or Carolans); the Duck Fart (a layered shooter made with Kahlúa, an Irish cream like Baileys or Carolans, and Crown Royal); and the Florida specialty Sammy Jager (equal parts of sambuca and Jägermeister).


If these are too tame for you, you may want to consider promoting two New Orleans specialties. The Oyster Shooter is a Gulf specialty made with Tabasco sauce, horseradish, cocktail sauce, draft beer and a raw oyster. The Bloody Nose is a fiery combination of Absolut Peppar, horseradish, Bloody Mary mix and a raw oyster served in a chilled rocks glass. So who needs a half shell?

Other specialties currently sporting celebrity status include the Jamaican Tennis Beads, a blend of Malibu, Midori, crème de banana, vodka and a splash of pineapple juice and cream; and the provocative Sexual Chocolate, a decadent combination of Jägermeister, an Irish cream like Baileys or Carolans, Kahlúa and dark crème de cacao.

The Purple Hooter is an enduring classic made with Chambord, vodka, sweet ‘n’ sour and a splash of 7-Up. Another is the Maui Wowie, which is a blend of Malibu, Midori, pineapple and orange juice; and the Cocaine Shooter, a concoction made with vodka, Chambord, Southern Comfort, orange juice and cranberry.


“When done right, a shooter is a compressed cocktail, a thing of beauty,” contends Dushan Zaric, partner and operator of Cocktail Conceptions, a popular new bartending school in Brooklyn that takes a culinary approach to the classic American bar. “It is open to the same creative approach applied to other cocktails. Shooters should be balanced, elegant and seductive. All of the same ingredients that regularly find their way into cocktails can be featured in shooters.”

The major spirit producers apparently agree. Shooters are something of a hot commodity, appearing in most of their marketing campaigns for both off- and on-premise establishments. Shooters are in.

tequilaHeaven Hill enlisted the services of mixologist extraordinaire Dale DeGroff to assist in promoting Hpnotiq. He dubbed his creation the Pom Pilot Sex, a simple yet luxurious combination of Hpnotiq and pomegranate juice. Another classy shooter in their fall portfolio is Hpnotiq Blue Shot, which features equal parts of Hpnotiq with the chilled superpremium vodka of your choice.

Jim Beam and DeKuyper have rolled out a highly creative shooter program, one that features the Sour Apple Drop, a shooter made with Absolut Citron, DeKuyper Pucker Sour Apple Schnapps and triple sec; and the Blue Drop, which combines Absolut Citron, DeKuyper Pucker Island Blue Schnapps and triple sec. The ingredients in both drinks are shaken over ice and strained into a sugar rimmed shot glass. Their current repertoire also includes the alluring Red Headed Slut, a concoction made with DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, Jägermeister and cranberry juice.

Brown-Forman and Southern Comfort intend to shake things up with several new libations, including the Southern Hurricane Shooter (Southern Comfort, pineapple juice and grenadine), the Alabama Slammer Shooter (Southern Comfort, Amaretto, sloe gin and orange juice) and the Soco Lime Shot, an amazingly refreshing combination of Southern Comfort and lime juice.


As one would expect, the major tequila brands are well represented in the shooter arena. Popular from Manhattan to Manhattan Beach is the Three Amigos, a field tested concoction made with equal parts of Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila, Goldschläger and Rumple Minze Schnapps. The appropriately named Cuervo Fire Alarm features Jose Cuervo Especial topped with Cholula hot sauce.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Sauza Banana Blow Shot, a drink made with Sauza Gold Tequila, crème de banana, pineapple and fresh lime juice and dollop of whipped cream.

Finally, as evidence that his culinary approach to mixology yields sensational results, Zaric points to two truncated cocktails currently being promoted at haunts in New York. The Vodka Nikolai is made with semi-frozen Stolichnaya Vodka and a lemon wedge coated on one side with sugar and on the other with ground espresso. The New York Sour Shooter features Wild Turkey Rye, lemon juice, simple syrup and a splash of fresh orange juice. The ingredients are shaken and then a thin layer of dry red wine is added on top.

The bottom line — shooters give your clientele one more creative outlet to enthrall their guests and another method for you to empty your shelves.

Selected Shooter Recipes

Looking for some creative shooter recipes to whet the appetites of your clientele?
Try these puny elbow benders on for size. –RP


  • Sherry glass, chilled
  • 1/3 fill Disaronno Amaretto
  • 1/3 fill sweet ‘n’ sour
  • 1/3 fill Champagne


  • Presentation shot glass, chilled
  • 1/3 fill Midori
  • 1/3 fill Champagne
  • 1/3 fill orange juice


  • 1 oz. Svedka Vodka
  • 1 drop Pandon extract
  • Grenadine

Dip shot glass into dish filled with grenadine. Quickly bring into bowl with sugar and push down slowly. Poor Svedka into shaker filled with ice. Add Pandon extract, shake and fill shot glass almost to rim.


  • Sherry glass
  • Layer ingredients
  • 1/2 fill Drambuie
  • 1/2 fill Single Malt Scotch


  • Cordial or pousse café glass, chilled
  • Layer ingredients
  • 1/4 fill grenadine
  • 1/4 fill White Crème de Menthe
  • 1/4 fill Midori
  • 1/4 fill Tuaca


  • Cordial or presentation shot glass
  • Layer ingredients
  • 1/3 fill Kahlúa
  • 1/3 fill Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1/3 fill Grand Marnier


  • Rocks glass, chilled
  • 3/4 oz. Jägermeister
  • 3/4 oz. Baeren Jaeger
  • 3/4 oz. Kahlúa


  • Presentation shot glass, chilled Salted rim optional
  • 1/3 fill Añejo Tequila
  • 1/3 fill Grand Marnier
  • 1/3 fill fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge garnish


  • Rocks glass, chilled
  • 1 1/2 oz. Absolut Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Disaronno Amaretto
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • Shake and strain


  • Rocks glass, chilled
  • 1/2 oz. Goldschläger
  • 1/2 oz. Jägermeister
  • 1/2 oz. Irish Cream
  • 1/2 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps


  • Rocks glass, chilled
  • 1 oz. Absolut Citron
  • 1 oz. Irish Cream


  • Presentation shot glass, chilled
  • Layer ingredients
  • 1/3 fill Kahlúa
  • 1/3 fill Irish Cream
  • 1/3 fill Crown Royal


  • Presentation shot glass, chilled
  • 1 oz. Sambuca
  • 1 oz. Jägermeister


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