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B-52 (cocktail): Wikis


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IBA Official Cocktail
Zutaten b52.jpg
Type Layered shooter
Primary alcohol by volume
Served Neat; undiluted and without ice
Standard garnish Stirrer
Standard drinkware
Shot Glass (Standard).svg
Shot glass
IBA specified ingredients
Preparation Layer ingredients into a shot glass. Serve with a stirrer.
B-52 recipe at International Bartenders Association

The B-52 (also B52 or Bifi) is a layered cocktail shooter composed of a coffee liqueur, Baileys Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier. When prepared properly, the ingredients separate into three distinctly visible layers. The layering is due to the relative densities of the ingredients.



The name refers to the US B-52 Stratofortress long-range bomber. This bomber was used in the Vietnam War for the release of incendiary bombs, which likely inspired today's flaming variant of the cocktail.

The origin of the B-52 is uncertain. One school of thought is that the B-52 was invented at the Keg Steakhouse in Calgary, Alberta in 1977.[1]

The B-52's widespread popularity has resulted in many variations, each earning a slightly different designation (see variations below for a small sampling). All together, the drinks are referred to as the B-50 series of layered cocktails.


The B52 is prepared in such a way that the components do not mix.

There are special machines that can prepare a B-52 (or other multi-layered cocktails) in only a few seconds. However, an experienced bartender usually relies on the traditional, hand-made preparation. Cocktails with horizontal layering, like the B-52, are also called "Pousse Café". This method of the preparation is called "building", as opposed to blending or shaking, thus, B-52s are "built".

B-52s are usually served in a shooter or sherry glass, although a heatproof glass is required when a "flaming B-52" is served. First, a coffee liqueur, such as Tia Maria or Kahlúa, is poured into the glass. Next, Bailey's Irish Cream is poured very slowly over the back of a cold bar spoon, taking care to avoid disturbing the lower layer as the second liquor is poured on top. Just as carefully, Grand Marnier is poured atop the Irish Cream using the bar spoon.

Flaming B-52

For a Flaming B-52, the top layer is ignited, producing a blue flame. Filling the glass to the top reduces the amount of glass exposed to the flames, making the glass less likely to break, but the drink easier to spill. It is best to leave the flaming B-52 on the bartop and drink it through a straw. Once lit the drink should be finished quickly to avoid overheating the glass and burning the straw. Unless the flame is extinguished before drinking, a fireproof straw — such as one made of metal — may be preferred.

Grand Marnier at room temperature will not ignite easily, so it should be warmed up beforehand or topped with an additional layer of a dark overproof rum with 65-85% alcohol by volume.

Variant drinks

  • B-52 with Bombay Doors, a B-52 with Bombay gin
  • B-52 in the Desert, a B-52 with tequila rather than Bailey's Irish Cream[2]

See also


  1. ^ Mulligan, Shawn M. (2005). Mulligan's Bar Guide. Harper Collins. ISBN 0002007223. 
  2. ^ A Toast to the B-52s in the Desert
  • Cross, Robert (2003) [1996]. The Classic 1000 Cocktail Recipes. Foulsham. ISBN 0-572-02852-0. 

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