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Boilermaker (beer cocktail)

The ingredients of the American version of a boilermaker.

A boilermaker can refer to two types of beer cocktail. In American terminology, the drink consists of a glass of beer and a shot of whiskey.[1] The beer is either served as a chaser or mixed with the whiskey. When the beer is served as a chaser, the drink is often called simply a shot and a beer.

In the United Kingdom, the term boilermaker refers to a half pint of draught mild mixed with a half pint of bottled brown ale.[2] The use of the term in British pubs can be traced back to about 1920.[3]


There is a number of ways to drink an American boilermaker:

  • Traditionally, the liquor is drunk in a single gulp and is then "chased" by the beer, which is sipped.[4][5]
  • The liquor and beer may be mixed by pouring or dropping the shot into the beer. The mixture may be stirred, if desired.[4] If the full shot glass is dropped into the beer glass, the drink is known as a depth charge.
  • The liquor may be poured directly into an open beer bottle or can after removing some of the beer.

In popular culture


Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) orders a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser with Edie (Eva Marie Saint) in a bar in the 1954 movie On The Waterfront.

Buddy Love (Jerry Lewis) orders a boilermaker in the 1963 version of The Nutty Professor.

Roy Fleming (Don Knotts) is forced through peer pressure, to drink a boilermaker Bomb, but once drunk keeps going for the sake of the party in the 1967 movie The Reluctant Astronaut.

Several references are made to the drink in the 1974 movie Airport 1975.

Brannigan (John Wayne) orders a boilermaker in the 1975 movie Brannigan.

Boilermakers appear in the 1976 movie The Bad News Bears. They are the favorite drink of Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau), the main character.

Norman Maclean (Craig Sheffer) orders him and his brother Paul Maclean (Brad Pitt) a Boilermaker (served as a "Bomb Shot") after confessing his love for Jessie Burns (Emily Lloyd) in the 1992 movie "A River Runs Through It".

Boilermakers appear in the 1994 buddy comedy Dumb and Dumber, when Sea Bass (Cam Neely) and his pals order four boilermakers on the tab of Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey).

Boilermakers appear in the 2006 movie The Departed when Jack Nicholson's character, Frank Costello, takes a shot of whiskey with a Budweiser chaser.

Boilermakers appear in the 2011 movie Thor when Erik Selvig orders one each for himself and the titular character, humorously leading to a drink-off that leads to Selvig getting so drunk Thor must carry him home.

In the opening scenes of the 2014 movie WolfCop, Lou is shown being served an American boilermaker at The Tooth and Nail.


In season 6 (original air date: 1/7/1978) of The Bob Newhart Show, The Hartleys embark on a sea-going vacation to put work behind them. But Bob can't resist playing psychologist when he undertakes to counsel a married couple. The husband of the married couple enjoys Boilmakers and gets Bob drunk on them.

In season 5, episode 14, of Golden Girls, Sofia mentions "slamming down a few boilermakers."

In season 2, episode 13 of Just Shoot Me!, the father of Dennis Finch orders boilermakers for his three sons. Finch interjects by ordering a Sea Breeze.

In season 2, episode 3, of Shameless, Frank Gallagher orders a boilermaker. Bartender Kev then drops a shot of whiskey into the beer.

In season 2, episode 5, of Frasier, "Dukes, We Hardly Knew Ye," Duke the bartender offers Frasier and Niles "Duke Specials," which he describes as "boilermakers, shot of whiskey, beer back." He then hands them two shots of whiskey and two pints of beer.

In season 1, episode 22, of Cheers, Carla serves two dignified, middle-aged women, who artfully work their order up from tea to sherry to wine to beer to "two boilermakers — Wild Turkey and Bud." Carla replies, "I’ll run a tab."

In season 6, episode 10, of Cheers, Frasier Crane walks into the bar and calls for a strong drink to "blast [him] into sweet oblivion." Woody Boyd suggests a boilermaker. Frasier instead asks for a mimosa.

In season 2, episode 24 of ALF (TV series) Maura Norris a friend Of Kate, is an alcoholic, Willie confides that in college her nickname was boilermaker, because she drank 14 in one night and he and his friends thought that it was funny back then.

In season 3, episode 11, of Moonlighting, Cybill Shepherd (Maddie Hayes) walks into Club Metropolis and orders a club soda and lime, then changes her mind and orders a white wine spritzer. She then looks to her left where about a dozen men are ogling her, and orders a boilermaker instead.

In season 2, episode 5, of Breaking Bad, Hank slams one down when the Whites visit him for dinner.

In season 3, episode 1, of Person of Interest, Mr. Reese drops a shot glass whiskey into a glass of beer and slides it over to Mr. Finch, saying "You might as well enjoy your first boilermaker."

In season 3, episode 5, of The Office, Ryan and Dwight drink boilermakers after a failed sales call.

In season 4, episode 1, of Home Movies, Coach McGuirk tries to teach a science lesson on mixing beer and alcohol, and Melissa brings up boilermakers.

In series 3, episode 18, of Absolutely Fabulous, Patsy is seen enjoying a boilermaker in the New York episode "The End."

In season 2 of The Wire, a shot and a beer is the standard drink of the stevedores.

In season 2, episode 13, of Mistresses, Joss and Karen are seen at a bar, drinking boilermakers, after Joss told Karen that Harry kissed her.

In season 1, episode 1, of Backstrom, Backstrom is seen at a bar, drinking a boilermakers, while interrogating the bartender.

In season 5, episode 10, of Shameless (US), a woman whom Frank is being intimate with in a bar restroom exits the restroom mid-coitus, frustrated, to which Frank argues, "I bought you a boilermaker.".


The drink is mentioned in some novels, such as V. by Thomas Pynchon (1963), Winter in the Blood by James Welch (1974) and Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein (1964).

The drink appears prominently in the novel King Leary by Canadian author Paul Quarrington. Leary and his entourage go to a seedy bar called the Boiler Room, so called because it is actually located in a boiler room and specializes in boilermakers. They encounter Leary's son, who is already under the influence of several boilermakers. They then order a round of them for the party.

See also

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  1. ^ Walkart, C.G. (2002). National Bartending Center Instruction Manual. Oceanside, California: Bartenders America, Inc. p. 123.   ASIN: B000F1U6HG. “Serve whiskey in a shot glass with a glass of beer on the side as a chaser.”
  2. ^ "Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Partridge, Eric (1937). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Edition 8, 2002. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN 978-0415291897. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology (first ed.). New York: Clarkson Potter. p. 226. ISBN 0-609-60884-3.