Singing karaoke, watching reality TV, belting out Bon Jovi tunes in the shower, eating deep-fried Twinkies…everyone has a guilty pleasure.
But what guilty pleasures do bartenders have? Over the past several years, we have witnessed a resurgence of classic cocktails and the popularity of formerly obscure spirits. Thanks to the work of aficionados and experts, a good bar is a lot easier to find.
But now that we all have sophisticated palates, some drinks have been banished from menus. Although you might be afraid to order one of these guilty pleasures (say, a Piña Colada), many pros enjoy them while they’re off duty. Here are a few mixologist favorites that you should indulge in some time soon.
“The Sex on the Beach, the schnapps made from peach, the Velvet Hammer, the Alabama Slammer…” Tom Cruise lists a whole slew of drinking sins in the movie Cocktail. While it’s difficult to pick just one guilty pleasure from his marvelous list, the honor goes to the Alabama Slammer, which combines sweet Southern Comfort, sloe gin, amaretto and orange juice. I can hear you cringing, but when no one is looking it’s quite tasty.
Named after the B-52 Stratofortress long-range bomber, this shot is made of equal measures of three spirits— Kahlúa, Baileys and triple sec—layered on top of each other. It tastes like dessert, looks pretty cool and can still impress the unsuspecting novice tippler.
My personal guilty pleasure is a shameless shot of amaretto topped with 151-proof rum, which is then lit on fire. The flaming shot is dropped into a beer and for some inexplicable reason the result tastes just like Dr Pepper soda—genius, but wrong in so many ways.
This unfortunately named potent mix combines three of Ireland’s best known exports: Guinness, Baileys and Jameson. While you can’t appreciate any of the ingredients, it gets you to your destination pretty quickly. It’s also available at just about every dive bar in America. Bomb’s away!
Sidney Frank introduced the world to the unpronounceable and undrinkable Jägermeister. His genius idea was to freeze the bitter herbal liqueur and serve it in test tubes. The rest is history. Not only is it a favorite of frat boys, but bartenders enjoy clandestine shots between Sazeracs and Negronis.
The mother of all guilty pleasures, the Piña Colada, has committed several crimes, including the fact that it’s usually blended and often served in a coconut shell or pineapple. Let’s not even mention the requisite miniature cocktail umbrella. But it’s undeniably a delicious frosty blend of rum, coconut and pineapple, and is the ultimate poolside drink.
This drink combines not one but two guilty pleasures: it’s a mashup of a Rum and Coke and a Kahlúa and Milk. It’s also a favorite of master mixologist Audrey Saunders, who was introduced to the concoction by none other than the venerable Dale DeGroff. This is one guilty pleasure that will be passed down from one generation of bartenders to the next.
Simon Ford is an award-winning bartender and director of trade outreach and brand education for Pernod Ricard USA. He is also a Liquor.com advisor.