Giving Beer a Shot: Six Updated Boilermakers in Boston
When a proper cocktail feels too fussy, but a pint of lager alone won’t pack enough punch, there’s the boilermaker—that age-old pairing of a shot (usually whiskey) with a lawnmower beer, consumed either side by side or with the booze dropped into the brew. “It’s a workingman thing—after your shift, it’s a long day, [so have] a shot and a beer to take the edge off,” says Deep Ellum owner Max Toste. The pairing tends to be the post-work drink of choice for bartenders, who, in turn, are giving boilermakers prime menu real estate all over town (and getting quite creative in the process). Here are six buzz-worthy combinations.
$13, State Park, Kendall Square
The Shot: A mini Rosita cocktail
The Brew: Anderson Valley El Steinber
“[The beer] is from California but is in the style of a Mexican lager, so we thought we’d do a tequila-based cocktail,” says co-owner Alon Munzer of the Rosita, which gets its hue from bittersweet Campari.
The Hopeless Romantic
$6, Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar, Fenway
The Shot: Fernet-Branca
The Brew: Pabst Blue Ribbon
This is a case of “opposites attract,” says barman Sean Frederick: “Fernet [is] one of the most pound-for-pound flavorful two ounces of liquid, and the beer [is] effervescent, fizzy, and cleansing for the palate.”
The Mexican Happy Meal*
$11, Deep Ellum, Allston
The Shots: Blanco tequila and sangrita
The Brew: Tecate
According to owner Max Toste, this combination was inspired by a visit to Mexico. While you can, of course, shoot the tequila, Toste recommends sipping it. “The sangrita puts the fire out,” he says.
The Fairsted Kitten
$7, Fairsted Kitchen, Washington Square
The Shot: Old Crow Reserve bourbon
The Brew: Hamm’s
“It’s pairing something sturdy and strong with something that is easy to drink multiples of,” says bar manager Patrick Gaggiano of this match-up, a staff favorite.
The Rosé of Bottled Beers
$5, Silvertone, Downtown
The Shot: Aperol
The Brew: Miller High Life
Owner Josh Childs suggests taking a few sips of beer, then pouring the fruity orange liqueur into the brew. “It tastes like a San Pellegrino orange soda,” he says.
The Disco Biscuit
$10, Brick & Mortar, Central Square
The Shot: Goldschläger
The Brew: Bantam Wunderkind cider
“The Goldschläger has a ton of cinnamon,” says beverage director Matthew Schrage. “It’s like apple pie. It has a very New England feeling to me.”
*If It Grows Together, It Goes Together
If your neighborhood bar lacks a snazzy shot-and-beer menu, just use the above phrase as a rule of thumb when choosing complementary spirits and beers. To get started, try the following:
- Irish whiskey with an Irish stout
- Tequila or mezcal with a Mexican lager German schnapps with a hefeweizen
- OR take a cue from the Dutch and try a kopstootje (pronounced: kop-stow-che; translation: “little headbutt”)—a shot of botanical Bols Genever paired with a witbier or frosty pilsner.