Mr. Boston

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Postcard of distillery c. 1930s

Mr. Boston, previously Old Mr. Boston, was a distillery located at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts from 1933 to 1986. It produced its own label of gin, bourbon, rum, and brandies, as well as a few cordials and liqueurs.


The distillery was founded in the Roxbury, Massachusetts neighborhood of Boston in 1933 by Irwin "Red" Benjamin and Hyman C. Berkowitz. Old Mister Boston was known for its collectible bottles such as the 1953 Presidential Inaugural Bottle.

Over time, through a series of changes of ownership, the words "Old" and "Mr." were dropped from the name until it was known simply as "Boston."[1] The distillery was a major employer in the Boston area from the 1930s until its closing circa 1986 when the parent company, Glenmore Distillers, shut down operations and the brand vanished. The building that housed Old Mr. Boston's operations is owned by the City of Boston and is in use as a City Inspectional Services headquarters as well as housing other city agencies such as the Boston Public Health Commission and the Department of Transitional Assistance.

Famous "Bartender's Guide"[edit]

1935 first edition of Old Mr. Boston guide, showing trademark logo, the fictional "Mr. Bostic". The book has been in print for more than 65 years.

The "Mr. Boston" name is known not only for its brands of distilled spirits, but also for its unique reference book, Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide, used by both professional and home bartenders as the "Bible of Booze." The Guide was first published 1935, according to the first date published in the Guide's publisher information page, the early days after the Repeal of Prohibition, when the distillery started up business again. As late as 2012 new editions were printed.[1][2] In July 2016, Mr. Boston launched its new website,, where you can find all of the Official Bartender's Guides in digital form. It contains over 10,500 cocktail recipes that are expertly chosen and professionally edited.

Upon entering the site, visitors are greeted with options to look for a specific cocktail, or explore areas such as bar basics, history, spirits, and a shop. One can search for drinks by specific ingredients (example, bourbon, vodka, etc.) or even specific color (example, if you want to have a green party). There are instructional articles and videos on the site such as "view types of garnishes" and "learn to make your own grenadine."

If one is feeling nostalgic for the former print editions, 12 of the past editions between the years of 1935-2012 have been digitized, providing users the opportunity to view an original cocktail recipe with today's current recipe to see how the drink has evolved through the decades.

Users can interact with the site as well, by creating their own bar book, which will allow users to "favorite" different recipes to build their book for future use and share the contents of the book with others on social media sites. Users also have the opportunity to review each recipe listed and add commentary about the cocktail, which may be published on the site.

"We're very excited to see the culmination of seven years of work come together in this beautiful website," added Brown. "We want it to be a true resource for those in the sprits industry and those making cocktails at their home bar. We intend to keep adding to this site to make it even more robust than it is now."

1995 acquisition[edit]

The Barton Brands liquor unit of New York's Canandaigua Wine Co. (now Constellation Brands) acquired the brand name in 1995 and resumed production. Barton uses the brand for a line of liqueurs and cordials.[1] In 2009 Constellation Spirits, including the Mr. Boston brand, was sold to the Sazerac Company of New Orleans,[3] who have subsequently released light and dark rums imported from the U.S. Virgin Islands under the Mr. Boston name.

2009 acquisition[edit]

The Sazerac Company bought the Mr. Boston brand in 2009 and immediately started working on taking the famous red book into the next century by building its comprehensive website. It started by rounding up as many of the editions of the Bartender's Guide as the company could find, which was at last count 58 out of the 75 guides published. From there, every single piece of data was entered into a custom built database, ending up with 210,780 points of data and 10,539 recipes Sazerac does plan to obtain the remaining 17 Official Bartender Guides it is missing and incorporate those recipes into the site as well.

"The Mr. Boston books have covered the evolution of the cocktail in America since Prohibition, but sadly, they were let go over the years," said Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer, the Sazerac Company. "The ties between our company and that brand are inextricably linked, with not only the Sazerac Cocktail, but our heritage in New Orleans, a city long synonymous with the cocktail culture. It was a natural fit to bring it all together where we are ensuring the future of the brand for at least another 80 years as the ‘go to' site for professional and amateur mixologists."

Famous Mr. Boston Brands[edit]

  • Rock & Rye
  • Mint & Gin
  • 100 proof Vodka


  1. ^ a b c Joshua Glenn (December 28, 2003). "Looking for Mr. Boston". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  2. ^ Anthony Giglio, Ben Fink: Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide. John Wiley and Sons 2009, ISBN 978-0-470-39065-8, p. 89 (online copy, p. 80, at Google Books)
  3. ^ Keith Lawrence (May 1, 2009). "Sazerac expanding bottling plant". Messenger-Enquirer, Owensboro, Kentucky. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 

External links[edit]