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Like most drinks, the exact origins of the Vegas Bomb cocktail are lost to history and/or the vague recollections of the people who invented it. But the drink first began making an appearance in the Las Vegas club scene about ten years ago.

So odds are the drink was originally the result of some combination of bored bartenders and vacationing college students. But it’s become one of the better-known drinks in tourist bars in Vegas and increasingly across the nation.

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There are a number of other “bomb” shots coming in a wide variety of mixes and tastes. The one thing they all have in common is that a shot glass is involved and the ultimate goal is to consume alcohol as quickly as possible. Ideally with a little bit of flair. And when it comes to being an ideal alcohol delivery system, the Vegas bomb is pretty darn effective.

Folklore says the name of this drink is inspired by the frequent nuclear tests that took place in the deserts near Las Vegas in the 1950s. But there are a number of drinks that include the word “bomb” and what they all have in common is that they pack a huge punch. The downside is that you have to drink most bomb shots pretty quickly because they tend to taste terrible.

One reason for the popularity of the Vegas bomb cocktail shot is that it combines a big alcoholic punch with great taste. Of course, since they taste good, you can sometimes lose track of how many of them you are consuming.

But it’s a widely popular drink, so much so that there is even a romantic book series named after it. Except that in that case, the “Vegas bomb” has an entirely different meaning.

But anytime a drink makes it the level of being mentioned as a romance book plot twist, you know it’s become famous.

What is a Vegas Bomb?

Basically, it’s a glass filled with equal parts Red Bull & booze, with a shot glass sweet liquor dropped inside it. The sweetness masks the taste of the energy drink, which in theory should keep you awake longer even as you’re drinking more alcohol.

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I’m not sure that there are any scientific studies that prove that, but it’s certainly what people who consume the drink believe and who’s to say they’re wrong?

Regardless, it has this perfectly-balanced taste with just a hint of sweetness, the slight tang of alcohol and a bit of a jolt from the energy drink. And bartenders love it because it’s easy to make and can be made quickly when the bar is busy. And since it tastes good, people will keep ordering it even when they get past the point when it’s not advisable.

What equipments do you need to make a Vegas Bomb?

You don’t need anything fancy to make a Vegas bomb Cocktail Shot. Just a standard-sized drinking glass and a shot glass. And as far as technique goes, you just need to be able to drop a shot glass into another glass, so no specialized training is required. Although maybe having a designated driver already picked out might not be a bad idea.

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Vegas Bomb Shot Ingredients

This isn’t an especially complicated drink to make and it doesn’t require a large number of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll find in the standard Vegas Bomb cocktail shot drink:

  • 5ml Crown Royal
  • 15ml Malibu
  • 10ml Peach Schnapps
  • Cranberry juice
  • Red Bull

How To Make A Vegas bomb

As drink recipes go, making a Vegas bomb cocktail shot is a pretty simple task. Which is a good thing, if you decide to both make and drink the shots:

  1. Pour equal parts of Crown Royal and Malibu into a shot glass
  2. Fill the shot glass almost to the top with Peach Schnapps
  3. Top off the shot glass with a tiny splash of cranberry juice
  4. Half fill your standard glass with Red Bull or another energy drink
  5. Drop the shot glass in the Red Bull glass and drink as fast as you can

Some Vegas Shot Variations

There are a large number of variations of the Vegas bomb shot with some of them so different from the original that they end up being an entirely new drink. You’ll see a lot of crazy drinks called a Vegas bomb because it’s a drink everyone already knows and it’s easy to promote. But that doesn’t mean they are all as tasty as the original.

One variation is to make a Vegas bomb with peach schnapps, but drop the splash of cranberry juice. Other people will substitute Amaretto for the cranberry juice. While some people swear by the addition of the Amaretto, I think it really changes the taste. But I suppose you should let your taste buds make the final decision.

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It’s also common to substitute another type of schnapps for peach since it’s not a flavor of schnapps that most people have handy. A lot of recipes use some type of butterscotch liquor, which is sweeter than the schnapps. But if you are looking for a drink that tastes even less like a drink, that might be the option for you.

And while Crown Royal is the Canadian Whiskey most often used in making the drink, it’s common to see people use another whiskey as a substitute. You’ll also see people simply leave out the Malibu, but that changes the taste enough that you end up with a drink that barely resembles the original.

A few variations of the Vegas bomb use coconut rum and butterscotch, which makes the drink super sweet without lessening any of the alcoholic punch. Sometimes you’ll see these variations prepared in a hollowed-out half coconut shell instead of a standard bar glass. Which tends to make the drink even sweeter while also giving the bar an excuse to charge extra for the drink.

Speaking of drinks that barely resemble the original, some bars serve a variation of the drink that is just Crown and Redbull. Which is a fine drink, but it doesn’t look or taste anything like a Vegas bomb. In fact, the drink is really just a Red Bull with a shot back, although that doesn’t have the catchy name that helps to sell the drink.

Do You Have To Use Red Bull?

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The short answer is “no-ish.”

While any energy drink will work in theory, some energy drinks other than Red Bull have an aftertaste or additional ingredients that can influence the final taste of the drink. The other reason Red Bull is the go-to energy drink for these concoctions is that it’s the most popular drink and nearly every bar has them in stock.

So you can experiment with the energy drink and if you’re looking to save money there are certainly some cheaper alternatives. Although if you’ve ever had a bad budget energy drink, you’ve realized that sometimes you really do get what you paid for.

Can I Add Fresh Fruit?

This may seem like an insane question, but I have seen several versions of the Vegas bomb that add or substitute a few fresh cranberries for the splash of cranberry juice that is used in the standard version of the drink.

There’s nothing wrong with substituting fresh cranberries or other fruit, but truthfully, this isn’t a drink that anyone orders because they want a pretty drink or even one that contains a few healthy ingredients. They order it in order to feel the alcohol and anything else is just window dressing.

Yes, There Is Even A Mock Vegas bomb Cocktail Shot

Since the primary point of drinking a Bomb cocktail shot is to feel the effects of the alcohol, then having a non-alcoholic version of the drink is like having a cheese-free grilled cheese sandwich. But if you must (or if you’re the designated driver), you can enjoy a vaguely close alcohol-free version of the Bomb by having a shot glass filled with peach juice and a splash of cranberry juice. Although to be honest, it takes a certain amount of guts to go into a bar and order a “virgin Vegas bomb.”

How Popular Is The Vegas bomb?

Well, if you judged it simply on the number of times it’s ordered in a bar, you’d have to answer “It’s very popular.” But the Vegas bomb has also been featured in a number of movies including “The Hangover,” which includes a memorable “ooh, I’ve had too many Vegas bomb’s” scene.

It’s also been mentioned in a number of songs, by musicians ranging from the Dave Matthews Band to Kid Kwill. A musician named Sara Amore even named one of her songs “Vegas bomb,” although it turns out the song isn’t quite you think it is.

Speaking Of Las Vegas, Where Is The Best Place To Get A Vegas bomb in Las Vegas?

jager cocktail, jager cocktail recipesHonestly, the drink will taste about the same no matter where you order them. But if you want to have a Vegas bomb in the perfect old-school Las Vegas location, check out the iconic Atomic Liquors and Cocktails on Fremont Street not too far away from the Strip.

It’s been around since the 1940s and back in the day it used to be the place where performers and workers from the Strip would come to hang out after everyplace closed up. There’s a stool dedicated to Barbra Streisand and other patrons back then included Jimmy Hoffa and Dean Martin to the Smothers Brothers, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr.

Like most of Fremont Street, Atomic Liquors went through a tough spell in the 1970s and 1980s when the area was better known for its levels of arrests than tourists experiences. But the area has been upscaled and gentrified, although the Atomic still manages to cling to that class Vegas vibe.

If you’re looking for an authentic Las Vegas bar experience, this is the place to go and it’s generally a pretty cheap place to drink compared to the trendier spots on the Strip. The bartenders might give you a look when you order the drink since it’s the one most ordered by tourists who don’t know what else to order. But ignore their scowl and just soak in the atmosphere and the reasonably priced drinks.

Other Types Of Bomb Drinks

While the Vegas bomb might be the best-known drink with bomb in the title, there are plenty of other variations commonly seen in bars and at parties. You’ll find all sorts of crazy drinks with the name “bomb” attached to them and some of them have nothing to do with the original. But here are a few of the most common variations and they are also the ones that most closely resemble the original:

  • The Irish Car Bomb is easy to make. You drop a shot of Irish cream and whiskey into a glass of Guinness beer and drink it fast. This is a very common drink in the U.K., especially in working-class local pubs. In fact, in traditional Irish pubs there is an entire process involved in making them, which would require another article to explain completely.
  • The Bomb Pop Cocktail is a very patriotic-looking drink that includes 1 oz grenadine, 1 oz citron vodka, 1/4 oz Blue Curaçao with 1 oz water. To make it, you pour the grenadine in a glass, then fill it with crushed ice. Slowly pour the water over the ice. In a separate glass, mix the vodka and Blue Curacao, then slowly pour that over the ice, being careful not to mix the colors. Okay, to be honest, there’s nothing very bomb-like about the drink despite its name. But it does look pretty and it makes a pretty solid choice for pool parties and 4th of July celebrations.
  • cherry cocktail, cherry shotThe Jager Bomb isn’t so much a cocktail as it is a quick and vaguely nasty way to get drunk. To make it, you simply drop a shot of Jagermeister into a glass of Red Bull. The resulting drink does pack a punch, but it smells and tastes a bit like antifreeze.
  • A Cherry Bomb is a bit more sophisticated drink the Vegas Bomb cocktail shot, but it’s still pretty easy to make and it is extremely refreshing. It also sounds cool when you talk about it. The ingredients you’ll need are:
    • 4 fresh sweet cherries, halved, pitted
    • 1/4 of a lemon
    • 1/4 of a lime
    • 5–6 fresh mint leaves
    • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters
    • 2 ounces dark rum
    • Mint sprigs (for garnish)
  • To make the Cherry Bomb, put all of the ingredients except for the rum into a mixer or cocktail glass. Use a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon to crush the ingredients and then pour the rum over the top. You can garnish with a fresh cherry or two if you want to get fancy.
  • The Crapple Bomb is kind of the Vegas bomb’s dumber, unemployed cousin. It’s a simple drink, consisting of three ingredients: 1 shot Crown Royal, 1 shot Apple Pucker and 2 shots red bull. This is the drink of choice for people who consider cranberry juice “too sophisticated.” There’s a variant of the Crapple Bomb called the Chili Bomb and it’s an even dumber version of the Vegas bomb. The Chili Bomb has two ingredients and a recipe that really isn’t even complicated to deserve the name. Simply pour some Red Bull into a glass and drop a shot of Crown Royal into the glass.
  • A Skittle Bomb gets its name from the fact that it supposedly tastes a lot like a Skittle. It’s a simple enough drink to make, however. It consists of 1 1/2 oz of Cointreau and a half a can of Red Bull. Honestly, I don’t it tastes much like a Skittle and it doesn’t look like one. But I suppose calling it a “Skittle Bomb” is a better name than a “Cointreau & Red Bull.”

Now you should know everything anyone should ever need to know about a Vegas bomb cocktail shot. Well, except how they taste and for that you’re going to need to visit your local bar for some firsthand knowledge. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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