Bully Boy’s New Old Fashioned Isn’t Your Typical Bottled Cocktail
Bully Boy Distillers released its first bottled cocktail this month, and cofounder Dave Willis understands if you’re a little wary.
“Unfortunately, the bottled cocktail has gotten a bad rap, because there are some really dreadful bottled cocktails out there. I almost bristle at calling it ready-to-drink. It’s like you’re getting lumped in with the Skinnygirls of the world,” he said.
But the cinnamon-y, nutty, smooth, and strong drink bears no resemblance to any medicinal, syrupy bottles you may have experimented with. Made with the small-batch distiller’s aged, American Straight Whiskey; simple syrup, and a heavy-handed addition of Angostura bitters, it’s simply just a well-crafted, classic Old Fashioned. It’s Willis’ own recipe that he has been making for a decade, and batching for friends for the past five years.
“I would bring it to friends’ parties, and people plowed through it. Everyone was like, ‘Where can I get this?’ So I thought, why don’t I do it?” he said. “It’s a really well-made Old Fashioned, and a lot of people have never had a really well-made Old Fashioned. This is our attempt to allow someone who might not have access to Drink, or the Hawthorne, or these wonderful craft cocktail bars, to buy a bottle, pour it over ice, and sip it in front of the fire.”
The Bully Boy brothers are planning a warmer weather bottled cocktail, too. Willis and cofounder Will are currently working on the elements of a Negroni—all three ingredients.
“Instead of using Campari, we’d make the bitter component in-house, and we might even make the sweet vermouth, as well. We’ll see,” Dave Willis said.
The Negroni is his warm-weather drink of choice, and he has a New American-style gin in development.
“We’ve settled on our gin recipe, even though it doesn’t come out until the spring,” Willis said.
New American, unlike a London Dry, has bolder aromas and flavors, he explained. Bully Boy’s uses several different botanicals, including indigenous Massachusetts juniper sourced from the farm he and Will grew up on; coriander, angelica root, and “funky stuff,” like hibiscus, lavender, and pink peppercorn.
“Some of these herbs that work really nicely in a gin aren’t too far outside of the box, but they provide this cool nuance and a way of differentiating our gin from others that are already on the market,” Willis said.
Look for more on that in the spring. The Old Fashioned will be available at retail stores through April, and whether the flavor components come together in Bully Boy’s Roxbury distillery or if they source tried-and-true Campari and vermouth, the Negroni will be released around that time.
“It’s a short-run product, and a way for us to have a little fun. But it’s not going into our core lineup. It’s not like we’re going into the bottled cocktail business,” Willis said. But he said depending on how the products are received, they could return next year.
The Old Fashioned is 34.15 percent alcohol by volume. The 750-ml. bottle retails for about $35.