Because there’s nothing better than an ice-cold beer and a shot of booze.

After a long day on the job, a boilermaker can really hit the spot. You’ve surely enjoyed one of these classic beer-and-shot pairings at a dive bar, but lately boilermakers have been popping up on upscale cocktail menus around the country.

So, how did the boilermaker come to be named as such? The most likely explanation is that this beloved beer-and-shot combo was named after the men who built and maintained steam locomotives in the 1800s, known as “boilermakers,” who enjoyed them after clocking out of work.

While this venerable beer-and-shot tradition is traditionally imbibed to catch a buzz  as quickly as possible, today’s bartenders are approaching them from a more refined perspective.

“A proper boilermaker should always be delicious and to the point, but that should never preclude it from being thoughtful and inventive in its pairing,” says Erick Castro, co-founder of Raised by Wolves in San Diego. “This is partly why many of the best combinations seem so unexpected on paper, but are amazing when served side by side.”

Here, bartenders from across the country serve up their absolute favorite boilermakers:



“[My go-to boilermaker is] Cold Sake—something more character-forward like Junmai or Junami Ginjo—and Asahi Japanese beer,” says Kevin Beary, beverage director at Chicago’s Bamboo Room and Three Dots and a Dash. “[When thinking about beer and shot pairings] they should be complimentary. One not overpowering the other.”