It’s no surprise that some of the country’s better bartenders are opening venues that celebrate simpler times. After all, many years of the last decade were ticked off in foams and crisp rice cereal that coagulate in your mouth.
Boilermaker, in New York’s East Village, focuses on drinks that drove the working class engine during the Industrial Revolution. The beer and shot combo is a timeless concept, beloved by early 20th century dockworkers, “and we are all about anything that helps remind people of America’s rich history of brewing and distilling,” says bartender Erick Castro.
The Heart of the Matter
Celebrated national bartenders Castro, Don Lee, cocktail historian Greg Boehm of Cocktail Kingdom as well as chef Miquel Trinidad are all partners in Boilermaker. “We wanted somewhere we would want to hang out, with great cocktails, awesome beer and a warm staff,” says Castro, whose San Diego bar, Polite Provisions won Tales of the Cocktail’s Best High Volume Bar award this past summer. The menu, he notes, features “house originals that focus on clean, elegant flavors meant to highlight the base spirit, as well as a couple of signature cocktails.”
Shot Me; Beer Me
The boilermaker offerings—that irrefutable combination of shot and beer—are the core of the menu. They range from choices such as the Machete in Space, a combination of Tecate & Cabeza Blanco Tequila; to Dark & Bitters, which features Victory Storm King Stout and Ramazotti Amaro. According to Castro, bartenders love boilermakers, as they are a combination of where cocktails and beer collide, kind of like the epitome of a bartender’s life story.
Larger groups can order a six-pack of Miller High Life and six shots of Buffalo Trace. Beer on tap ranges from California’s Bear Republic Red Rocket to New York’s Ithaca Flower Power IPA. Highballs, such as the Five String Banjo, made with Bourbon and Billy’s Pilgrim Vanilla Cream Soda are on the list, as well as drinks likes Zombies. These are limited to two orders per person as they are doozies, warns Castro.
Meat Me at the Beginning
Trinidad is best known for bringing modernized Filipino cuisine to New Yorkers with restaurants such as Jeepney and Maharlika. He has used his considerable culinary skill to make old-fashioned burgers like those served at New York’s legendary Corner Bistro. Trinidad’s burgers are also inspired by an other-side-of-the-country cultish burger: the beloved one from the West Coast chain In-N-Out.
Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about drinks for two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco–based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Business Monthly, DrinkUpNY and the SOMM Journal.