Despite The Name, A Little Beer Shot Doesn't Contain Any Beer

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If you ever overhear somebody at the bar ordering a Little Beer, it would be easy to believe that they actually want just a little bit of beer. Although it's odd that they wouldn't specify a small pour, a tasting glass, or what kind of beer they want. Maybe they're just indecisive or not that thirsty? Or maybe something else is going on. That's because "Little Beer" is actually the name of a specific shot made from Licor 43 and cream.

There's no actual beer in a Little Beer (sometimes called a Mini Beer Shot), but the little cocktail is so named because when it's served, it closely resembles a tiny, frothy glass of beer. Licor 43 is a pale-colored Spanish liqueur flavored with vanilla and citrus, and when you heap heavy cream or an Irish cream liqueur like Baileys on top, it resembles the foam that forms on top of a beer glass. But don't be fooled by its appearance, because a Little Beer is much sweeter than that the hoppy concoction form which it borrows its name, sporting a much stronger, creamier taste. 

A little beer vs. a Little Beer

There are just a few steps in making a Little Beer, and you have some room for variety in what you use for the cream. However, the shots usually require Licor 43 because of its vanilla-citrus taste. If you can't find the brand, Tuaca is a less sweet Italian vanilla-citrus liqueur that would make a decent substitute, as would Grand Marnier if you just want the citrus flavor. On Licor 43's website, they advertise their own version called the "Minibeer 43" with a single shot of liqueur and a spoonful of carefully layered heavy cream on top. You want to pour in the liqueur until the shot glass is two-thirds full so you can leave room for the cream.

The toughest part is probably getting the cream to spread out just right, so it looks just like beer foam. It helps if you pour the cream over the back of a spoon so that it spreads evenly over the liqueur. A simple shot glass will do the trick, but they do make tiny novelty beer glasses for just such an occasion. 

Tried-and-true beer shots

There are a few similar drinks to the Little Beer out there. There's a Swedish variant known as the Blåbärsputte (Swedish for "blueberry pudding") which involves the usual Licor 43 and cream, alongside a sugary Swedish dessert called blueberry soup. In Mexico, Licor 43 is also commonly used in carajillo cocktails (which are spiked coffee drinks) alongside coffee or espresso and sometimes cream. Licor 43 also works great in a flip, which is made with egg instead of cream (basically spiked eggnog without cream). For more cream shots, you can use that Baileys for a cement mixer shot with lime juice.

So you've got the hang of Little Beer shots, but what should you do if you want an actual beer cocktail? The most famous is probably the boilermaker, which is just a glass of beer mixed with whiskey. There's also the beer spritz, a variation on a wine spritz using amaro liqueur (bitter Italian spirits like Campari) and light beer, in a glass with plenty of ice.

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