Earn Your Stripes

How to build a perfectly-layered drink



The B52


1/2 oz Coffee liqueur

1/2 oz Irish cream

1/2 oz Grand Marnier


In a shot glass, layer the coffee liqueur, Irish cream, and Grand Marnier in that order.

There's something undeniably appealing about spirits served in a neat stack, and something even better about being the one to build it. If you'd like to achieve the perfect float at home, all you need are your desired ingredients, a quick lesson in liquor density, and a very cold spoon.

After you've lined your glass with the drink's initial layer, hold a chilled spoon, backside up, in the glass, just above the liquid. Pour the next spirit slowly over the back of the spoon so that it is dispersed evenly across the first layer. The best way to get great layers is to make sure you're starting with the heaviest liquor first -- check out our density chart to know which booze belongs on the bottom.
Alcohol By Density

These are common spirits, listed from heaviest to lightest. The further apart two liquors are on this list, the better they'll work together as layers.

Grenadine 1.18
Creme de Cassis 1.18
Anisette 1.175  
Creme de Almond 1.16
Crème de Noyaux 1.165
Creme de Banana 1.14
Creme de Cacao 1.14  
White Crème de Cacao 1.14
Coffee Liqueur 1.13
Cherry liqueur 1.12  
Green Crème de Menthe 1.12
Strawberry liqueur 1.12
White Crème de Menthe 1.12
Blue Curacao 1.11
Galliano 1.11
Amaretto 1.1  
Tia Maria 1.09  
Triple sec 1.09  
Drambuie 1.08  
Frangelico 1.08  
Orange Curacao 1.08
Campari 1.06
Apricot brandy 1.06
Peach brandy 1.06  
Yellow Chartreuse 1.06
Irish Cream 1.05
Midori 1.05  
Benedictine 1.04  
Brandy 1.04
Cointreau 1.04
Kummel 1.04  
Peach liqueur 1.04  
Peppermint schnapps 1.04
Sloe gin 1.04
Grand Marnier 1.03
Green Chartreuse 1.01
Water 1
Tuaca 0.98
Southern Comfort 0.97
Everclear (95% ABV) 0.80

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,575

    OK, the chemist has to comment...
    The reference point 1.0 = pure water?

    Jul 06, 2010 at 6:24 PM

  • Snooth User: christo93
    364857 14

    I would have thought that Irish Cream would have a higher density than Yellow Chartreuse or amaretto

    Jul 07, 2010 at 10:32 AM

  • Snooth User: Chris Carpita
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    33093 5,546

    Unless bartenders use their own physical units, these are specific gravity numbers. According to engineerstoolbox.com:

    "It is common to use the density of water at 4 oC (39oF) as reference - at this point the density of water is at the highest - 1000 kg/m3 or 62.4 lb/ft3."

    Regarding Irish Cream, I find it to be somewhat fluffy, maybe aerated? The fattiness of the emulsion (yeah that's it) would definitely lower the density a great deal more than other less fatty liqueurs.

    Jul 08, 2010 at 1:12 AM

  • Great info. & great fun. Can't wait to try.
    One sugestion on this site in general. Could you add a 'print' feature. There are some on here as well Snooth that i would like to keep in that form. Very time consuming to copy / paste into a Word doc.. So too sometimes i wind up dragging some info. I do not need so I wind up having to edit as well.

    Jul 08, 2010 at 9:49 AM

  • Snooth User: StevenBabb
    Hand of Snooth
    296258 488

    another fun shot to make, and easy to drink.... the brain hemorrhage....

    1 oz peach schnapps
    1/4 oz bailey's
    drop or two of grenadine

    pour peach schnapps into shot glass.... carefully float the bailey's.... (it'll curdle and kind of resemble brain matter).... then carefully drop one or two drops of grenadine into the glass.... it will hit the bailey's and slide into the peach schnapps and look like a "brain hemorrhage"!

    a fun and entertaining shot for your bar guests....

    Jul 08, 2010 at 10:20 AM

  • Snooth User: epicure
    454669 2

    The density chart is usefull. I have a "tricky" solution for layering. Cut thin rings from a normal bottle cork, put it on the first layer and slowly fill in the second. The cork swims up and you fill the third. It really works well! Take out with pincers. After washing it you re-use the cork (and you can have several ready with different diameters as well). Good entertaining!

    Jul 09, 2010 at 4:47 AM

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