We at OnMilwaukee.com encourage responsible drinking. We recommend designated drivers and knowing when to say "when."
That said, our editorial staff isn't above a well-timed shot every once in a while. And when we need to make that 1.5 ounces of hard liquor count, here's what we pick. Please add your own favorite shot using the Talkback feature below.
Molly Snyder Edler
Whiskey. I like all kinds: single malt, vatted malt, single grain, blended, Irish, Canadian, bourbon, rye, etc. I can't drink copious amounts of whiskey anymore (the hangovers are too brutal), but when given the opportunity to throw back a little shot of the stuff, I'm all for it. If I were forced to pick one as my favorite, I would go with Jameson ... or Jim Beam rye ... or Maker's Mark ... or maybe Jack ...
If we're talking about simple, spur-of-the-moment shot slamming, I'll take a smooth, clear ounce or two of El Patron or an equally-minded premium tequila any day of the year. If we're looking to really make an event out of it, I have to admit that I enjoy the occasional multi-layer affairs that involve dropping a shot glass of some kind of liquor into a pint glass of some kind of beer. Favorites include the famous Irish Car Bomb (half shot of Bailey's Irish Crème and half shot of Jameson dropped into a glass of Guinness), Lunchbox (shot of Amaretto dropped into a pilsner beer and topped with orange juice) and the totally ridiculous Jager Bomb (shot of Jager dropped into a glass of Red Bull).
If it's happened once, it's happened three dozen times with old friends, new acquaintances, the guy who just spilled a beer on your shoe ... It doesn't matter. Someone will get the bright idea "Let's do a shot." You say, "OK." And then, the question: "What should we do?" followed by a long, confused pause. You don't want to seem wimpy or cheap. But, you might not want to down a glass of rot-gut, either. In short, shots are such a conundrum that it's almost easier to decline the offer.
Like many, I went through an early Kamikaze phase. But, too many of those were badly made. Asking for a chilled Stoli is solid, but a bit boring. It's easy to just say "Cuervo," but now that my palate is a bit more educated, I realize that there are MUCH better tasting tequilas out there. For awhile, the answer was "Jagermeister." That's still a pretty solid choice. You keep your street cred, because cool guys like Dave Grohl drink it, but I find it tastes a bit too much like cough syrup.
If you asked me to name a favorite "foofy" shot, I'd go with the Lemon Drop, because I always loved those lemon candies as a kid. But, I've found that the best possible answer to the "What do you want?" question is a simple "Jameson." It's cool. It's classic. It's smooth, and it warms you up on cold winter nights, sort of like your favorite wool sweater. It'll never go out of style.
I've never really enjoyed shots, perhaps because I drink things I like to taste and shots are more for rapid drunkenness than savoring flavors. I certainly understand why a lot of booze consumed as shots is enjoyed that way; because a lot of it is really, really horrible and more than a little of it tastes more like punishment than pleasure.
I do enjoy a few things in shot-size glasses, though. First is grappa, which must be an acquired taste because I don't know too many people here who enjoy it as much as I do. I have a cupboard full of store-bought grappe made from all kinds of wines, like grignolino and moscato, but also gifted bottles unavailable in the States and home-made versions that is unavailable outside a tiny Italian village on a steep hillside.
Although I'm no expert in them, I also enjoy single malt scotches, which, sadly, are often out of my price range (ask Andy Tarnoff about the $25 one he once treated me to ... accidentally!). I prefer smoky, peat-y examples. What I like about single malts and grappa is that they possess an earthiness that really conjures their origins. The wafting scents of grappa and single malts immedately transport me to the hills of Italy or Scotland's braes.
My favorite shot depends where I am, but it's usually tequila (but not "Cuervo grade" or lower, as that swill tastes more like a rubber tire than a fine spirit). Am I south of the border, where I can pick anything distilled from that mysterious blue agave plant? Then it is, without a doubt, El Jimador, the "official" tequila of my annual trip to Spring Training. If I'm stateside and at a bar with a bartender who knows how to make the "Bernie," a shot allegedly invented in Door County then I'll order it up: take your standard tequila shot with training wheels and replace the lime with orange, and the salt with cinnamon. That shot tastes especially good with El Patron or Cazadores.
Speaking of Door County, the shot of choice Up North is Jaggie, and as much as I hate the taste of black licorice, I've been known to throw one back on occasion (ironically, they taste much better when mixed with that other awful elixir, Red Bull).
Of course, there are the times when a shot is completely uncalled for (which, come to think of it, is most of the time), but I don't want to look like a wuss and decline.
I'll take the weakest shot ya got, thanks: Doctors, Black Haus or even Pucker if not too many people are laughing at me at this point. Finally, count me out if someone is suggesting any kind of whiskey. I mean, if someone's already poured the V.O. or Jamo, then it would be impolite to turn it down. But whiskey has "Bad Idea Jeans" written all over it. I speak from personal experience.