“Let's do shots.”

Far too many nights at the bar go quickly downhill after those words get tossed on the table. What seems like a great idea at the time usually devolves into an evening of Kamikazes, Scooby Snacks, and creamy concoctions unfortunately named after female body parts, bodily fluids and sex acts. The morning after is never pretty. Done right, however, there's a simple elegance to shots.

The gold standard for shots, of course, is straight liquor. Whiskey, tequila and vodka are, by far, the top choices for a solid lug of booze. Many ill-advised nights start off with common sense being drowned in an 80-proof bath. And while it's hard to beat the classics, there are some interesting twists on the usual 1 to 2-ounce slug of straight liquor that don't look like simple attempts to get completely and utterly obliterated within a half hour (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Some of these will put a little hair on your chest, others are tasty and take a little mixology skill to throw together, but none of them will stain your teeth purple or require reading the instructions on a packet of Jell-O.

Oyster Shooters - A classic that few even consider a shot, no one really knows what mad genius first decided to drop an oyster in a shot of booze. A great drink to start a night out, the oyster shooter is often paired with some heavy duty spice, not only making it a tasty shot to throw back, but also a spectacular way to introduce someone to oysters. On the other hand, it's a profoundly bad way to end a night, with the frightened oyster often looking for a quick exit from a stomach saturated with booze - which tends to be messy.

-1 oyster

- ½ ounce tequila (a good reposado tequila, like Tequila Semental, complements the brine of the oyster nicely)

- ½ ounce tomato juice

- 1-2 dashes Tabasco Sauce (or hot sauce of your choice)

Place the oyster in the shot glass, add the tequila, then the tomato juice to top it off. Splash in the Tabasco and let the mixture slide on down.

The B-52 - A sweeter shot blending orange, coffee and cream liqueurs, this is a classic named after the B-52 Stratofortress that was supposedly invented in Canada, of all places. Regardless of its origins, it requires a steady hand to put together. Done correctly, this is a layered drink, with three distinct stripes in the shot glass to display its maker's skills. Even better, a simple variant on this drink involves lighting it on fire for a Flaming B-52.

-½ ounce coffee liqueur (Kahlua tends to layer extremely well)

-½ ounce Irish cream liqueur (Bailey's Irish cream provides a solid middle layer for the shot)

-½ ounce orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Harlequin works nicely, and will light fairly easily if slightly warmed)

This shot isn't mixed or poured - it's built. First, carefully pour in the coffee liqueur to form the base. Next, slowly pour the Irish cream liqueur over the back of a spoon so it doesn't disturb the coffee liqueur and forms its own layer on top. This step may take some practice, as it's easy to pour too fast and muddy the layers. Then, use the spoon again to slowly layer on the orange liqueur. If you're in the mood to really impress people, take a match and light that thing up. Just make sure to blow it out before tossing it down the hatch.

The Magnificent Mexican - Inspired by a drink developed by Christopher Null, blogger at Drinkhacker.com, the Magnificent Mexican is the shot for any tequila fans tired of nights spent coating their hands in salt and lime. The drink adds a little complexity with citrus and agave nectar without masking the full flavor of the tequila.

-1 ounce reposado tequila

-1/4 ounce lemon or lime juice

-1 teaspoon agave nectar

Pour all the ingredients into a shot glass, or, if making a batch, just triple the recipe over ice in a cocktail shaker. Give it a shake and strain into shot glasses. Just remember - it's still an ounce of tequila and will happily drop you in your tracks just as fast as the straight stuff. Again...not that there's anything wrong with that.