Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Hot Shot

A squat shot glass sits on a black and gray surface, the background is dramatically black. The shot glass holds a layered drink of yellow Galliano, dark brown espresso and a float of white cream. / Tim Nusog

Layered shots are a bit of a relic. Once the height of cocktail fashion (or at least rather trendy sometime around the 1990s), they’ve faded into relative unpopularity save for the occasional club or party. There’s nothing inherently wrong with layering ingredients rather than mixing them, and doing so can create an impressive image—a fun trick that will wow people with your skills. The Hot Shot is once such layered drink, an Italian-inspired, caffeinated concoction.

The Hot Shot relies on the quality of its espresso, first and foremost. Using pre-ground, store-bought coffee beans won’t lead to the best tasting version of the drink. Instead it’s best to buy from a local coffee shop or roaster and grind the beans yourself. It’s also not advisable to buy an espresso shot from a cafe and make the drink with that, as it will quickly lose its crema, not to mention its heat. However, if you do not have an espresso maker but still are still keen on making the Hot Shot, be sure to move quickly. And order your espresso as close as possible to when you make the drink.

The only liquor in the Hot Shot is Galliano, an Italian herbal liqueur with heavy notes of anise and vanilla. If you have a bottle sitting around for the Hot Shot, it’s probably because you bought it to make the liqueur’s most famous progeny, the Harvey Wallbanger. If you don’t manage to finish the bottle with the Hot Shot, there are other applications.

Finally, the drink is topped with a float of heavy cream. If you're making this drink for someone who doesn’t partake in dairy products, or for whatever reason you don’t want to use cream, you can substitute an alternative like almond milk or soy milk. But keep in mind that with less fat the alternate milk will likely not float as well, and could potentially mar the sleek, layered appearance.

When it comes to that layered look, it’s not as difficult as it might initially seem. The most effective technique is to use a pour spout and gently and slowly pour the liquid down the back of a bar spoon held just over the surface of the previous layer. After a bit of practice, you should be building layered shots easily and breezily—all the better to impress your guests.


  • 1/2 ounce Galliano L’Autentico

  • 1/2 ounce espresso

  • 1/2 ounce heavy cream


  1. Carefully layer the ingredients in a shot glass, starting with the Galliano, then the espresso and finally the heavy cream.