Shots, for the most part, serve as a quick path to drunkenness with the minimal amount of liquid passing through the lips. They are usually either candy-colored and given silly names for young drinkers who don't like the taste of alcohol, or straight spirit for those who like the effects more than the flavor.
The new book The Best Shots You've Never Tried by Andrew Bohrer takes a different approach to the subject of shots. The author miniaturizes classic cocktails (wherein the White Lady becomes the Little Lady and the Seelbach becomes the Seel-Banger), uses fresh ingredients throughout (in drinks like the Watermelon Salad and Blackberry Boo Boo), and offers a section called "Shots of Last Resort" that can be made from combinations of strange ingredients you have around the house, like pickle juice and blackberry jam.
The classics tend to be slightly simplified (and miniaturized) versions of their inspirations and many of the drinks are very savory, and it got me to thinking: Shots don't need to be small drinks that we consume in large quantities, but can be small, singular bursts of flavor that we use to mark moments.
These drinks can be offered as an amuse-bouche or welcome drink at a party, as palate cleansers between courses of a meal, or as parting gifts on the way out the door. It could be fun to offer culinary shots such as those in the book to pair with each course of a meal, rather than a full cocktail that contains a larger dose of alcohol than desired.
Let's think on that. In the meantime, here is one drink that is a bright, crisp palate cleanser made from common ingredients found in Italian restaurants (and in my kitchen on the day I was experimenting with recipes from the book). It packs a large amount of flavor into a single slurp, waking one up but not necessarily inviting another round.
The tiniest strip mall lasagna house still pushes amarone grappa on guests that would rather have a pitcher of pop. Every Italian restaurant has grappa, limoncello, and rosemary, but to quote a famous monorail salesman, "It's like a mule with a spinning wheel. Nobody knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it!" Here is how you combine three common ingredients that are either hated, syrupy sweet, or known only as a garnish.
.75 fl. oz. Grappa
.75 fl. oz. Limoncello
1 sprig Rosemary
Shake and fine strain into a shot glass.
Excerpted from The Best Shots You've Never Tried: 100+ Intoxicating Oddities You'll Actually Want to Put Down (F+W Media, August 2012) by Andrew Bohrer.