Boilermaker (beer cocktail)

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The ingredients of the American version of a boilermaker

A boilermaker is either of two types of beer cocktail. In American terminology, the drink consists of a glass of beer mixed with a shot of whiskey.[1]


The drink originated in Butte, Montana, in the 1890s, and was originally called a Sean O'Farrell and was served only when miners ended their shifts.[2][3][4] When the beer is served as a chaser, the drink is often called simply a shot and a beer.[5]

In England, the term boilermaker traditionally refers to a half pint of draught mild mixed with a half pint of bottled brown ale, although it also refers to the American shot and pint.[6] In Scotland, a half and a half is a half pint of beer with a whisky ("a wee hawf").[7] The use of these terms in Scottish and English pubs can be traced back to about 1920.[8]


There are a number of ways to drink an American beer chaser:

  • Traditionally, the liquor is consumed in a single gulp and is then "chased" by the beer, which is sipped.[9][10]
  • The liquor and beer may be mixed by pouring or dropping the shot into the beer. The mixture may be stirred.[9] If the shot glass is dropped into the beer glass, the drink can also be known as a depth charge.[11]

Similar drinks[edit]

Other pairings of a shot and a beer are possible; traditional pairings include:

  • Herrengedeck ("gentlemen's menu"), a German pairing of Korn (grain brandy) and beer[12]
  • Regenschirm ("umbrella"), a German pairing of Allasch and Gose.[13]
  • Irish car bomb (cocktail), a pairing of a shot of Irish cream and whiskey into a glass of stout[14]
  • Kopstootje ("little headbutt"), a Dutch pairing of Jenever (Dutch gin) and beer,[15] term attested 1943[16]
  • Somaek or Poktan-ju, a Korean pairing of soju and beer[17]
  • U-boot, a pairing of vodka and beer
  • The Chicago Handshake or Chicago Drive-by, a shot of Jeppson's Malört alongside Old Style beer[18][19]
  • The Citywide, sometimes called the Citywide Special, a Philadelphia pairing of a shot of Jim Beam and a Pabst Blue Ribbon[20]
  • A sake bomb is the pairing of a pint of Japanese beer and sake. Typically drunk in a single motion like a depth charge but it can be mixed, and swallowed in a go.
  • The Slow Mutant consists of a shot of Jeppson’s Malört and a Long Drink.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Walkart, C.G. (2002). National Bartending Center Instruction Manual. Oceanside, California: Bartenders America, Inc. p. 123.  ASIN: B000F1U6HG. The BCIM lost track of the traditional American Boilermaker from the 1970s and 80s; this involves a "depth charge," which is a shotglass filled with whiskey that is dropped into a 2/3 filled pint of beer. The 2002 manual suggests to “Serve whiskey in a shot glass with a glass of beer on the side as a chaser.”
  2. ^ Randall, Jessy F. (2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Oxford University Press USA. p. 58. ISBN 9780199734962.
  3. ^ Patterson, Troy (2015-09-07). "What Beer To Drink on Labor Day—and on the Job". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  4. ^ "Butte in midst of beer price war". 20 April 1967. Archived from the original on 2021-05-11. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  5. ^ "Boilermakers go beyond the basic: where to find the most-interesting varieties in Seattle". The Seattle Times. 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  6. ^ "Why Do the Dutch Call a Beer and a Shot a 'Little Headbutt'?". Thrillist. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  7. ^ "Dictionary of the Scots Language:: SND :: half". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  8. ^ Partridge, Eric (1937). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Edition 8, 2002. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN 978-0415291897.
  9. ^ a b Hellmich, Mittie (2006). The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails. Chronicle Books. pp. 93–94. ISBN 0-8118-4351-3.
  10. ^ Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology (first ed.). New York: Clarkson Potter. p. 226. ISBN 0-609-60884-3.
  11. ^ Rense, Sarah (2020-04-03). "A Boilermaker Is the Overly Efficient Kind of Drink We Need Right Now". Esquire. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  12. ^ Matthew Rowley (2015). Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger's Manual. The Countryman Press.
  13. ^ "Leipziger Allasch". Retrieved April 13, 2023.
  14. ^ "This St. Patrick's Day Staple Is a Crowd Pleaser". Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  15. ^ Kopstootje: A Little Head Butt from Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Bols Genever, Jonathan Moxey
  16. ^ De pers in Nederland, H. A. Goedhart N.v. Nederlandsche uitgeverij "Opbouw,", 1943, p. 162
  17. ^ "Measuring beloved Korean drink, from smooth to blackout". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  18. ^ McNear, Claire (2019-02-06). "Malört, Chicago's Celebrated, Foul-Tasting Liquor, Is Returning to Its Ancestral Home". The Ringer. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  19. ^ Lukach, Louisa Chu, Nick Kindelsperger, Marissa Conrad, Joseph Hernandez, Bill Daley, Josh Noel, Adam. "It's Chicago's fake birthday — celebrate with these 30 classic Chicago foods and drinks, from Original Rainbow Cone to a Chicago Handshake". Retrieved 2021-05-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Gruber, Lauren (2015-08-04). "The Best Citywide Deals In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2022-07-29.