The Only 2 Ingredients You Need For A Classic Boilermaker Cocktail

When it comes to cocktail simplicity, you really can't beat a Boilermaker. Consisting of just whiskey and beer, this potent drink packs quite a punch without the bells and whistles of other alcoholic beverages (such as the record-breaking Commonwealth cocktail and its 71 distinct ingredients). Drinking a Boilermaker can also be quite a spectacle, as it's commonplace to deposit a shot glass full of whiskey into a partially full beer glass prior to quickly imbibing. As for where and how the cocktail originated, that's not entirely clear. 

The name of the drink naturally calls to mind steelworkers, but versions of the cocktail were present in Germany and the Netherlands well before this association existed. What can't be denied is the Boilermaker's links to working-class drinking culture, which typically prioritizes potency over fancy ingredients and presentations. Still, that doesn't mean that Boilermakers don't require a little finesse. Finding the best combination of beer and whiskey is something of an art form, especially when you consider just how many options are available.

Ideal whiskey and beer pairings for Boilermakers

Let's begin with the basics: Pabst Blue Ribbon and bourbon make for a no-nonsense pairing when concocting a Boilermaker. If you've ever pondered the difference between whiskey and bourbon, bourbon is actually a type of whiskey that is subject to very strict manufacturing requirements. Its sweet, rich flavor offers a nice contrast when compared to Pabst, which is known for being a light, easy-drinking beer.

If you want your Boilermaker to be more of a meal, consider incorporating Guinness and Irish whiskey. Guinness is an iconic Irish stout that offers toasty flavors punctuated by a mild sweetness, while Irish whiskey combines oaky characteristics with a subtle fruity flavor. If you're seeking a less common pairing for your Boilermaker, combining a trendy IPA with a spiced bourbon is another option to consider. In this case, a hazy IPA might be the best selection, as these beers lack the in-your-face bitter notes that traditional IPAs typically offer.

Is there a right way to drink a Boilermaker?

Along with the drink's ingredients, Boilermakers are also defined by how they're consumed. For many people, the classic method involves dropping the shot into the beer and quickly downing the contents. However, this technique is not for the faint of heart and some bartenders even look down on the practice. If you want the true Boilermaker experience but don't want to raise the ire of your server, ask for the drink to be served with a third empty glass so you can carefully mix the two drinks yourself.

If you're not one for spectacle, there are other methods for enjoying a Boilermaker. You can simply take a shot of whiskey and drink your beer in quick succession. If slamming shots really isn't your thing, gentle sipping of both beverages is also allowed. In fact, this may be the best course of action if you want to get the full flavor effect from the combination of beer and whiskey. While Boilermakers might not rank as one of the classic cocktails everyone should try once, they're highly enticing for ardent lovers of both whiskey and beer.