Ah, the Boilermaker, that much-beloved invention that marries two of our favorite things: a shot of room-temp liquor and a cold pint of beer. It’s fun, it’s dependable, and it’s usually a great deal. “It’s basically like happy hour all the time,” says Daniel Williams, co-owner of Kingfisher and Boilermaker fan.
Typically, the shot-and-beer combo consists of rye whiskey and a lager, but as the special continues to gain popularity, we’ve been thrilled to see more out-of-the-box pairings that are definitely, well, worth a shot. Whether you’re already an aficionado or simply intrigued, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites in DC for easy Friday night referencing.
Fair warning: you might wanna have a big dinner before attempting the specials on this list.
This low-key basement bar is the perfect respite from an otherwise bustling 14th Street, and boasts an entire menu of beer and a shot combos. “We like the idea of giving people a discount on drinks through the way we price them — by taking $2 off each component of the combo,” says co-owner Williams.
He also likes how the break on price gives his patrons a reason to step outside the box of their normal drink orders. “One of our combos is dark rum and pineapple cider (their Austin City Limits for $11). Obviously nobody is going to order both of those together on their own unless we give them the incentive to try something a little different.”
If you’re not a rum fan. don’t fret — they also have offers like the Regular Joe, a Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager paired with Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon. If you’re feeling invincible just make your way down the list. Who knows, you’ll probably be proposing something crazy like karaoke by the end. Pro tip: ask about their “secret” combo that can’t be found on the menu.
An industry favorite and DC mainstay, Red Derby in Adams Morgan is a beloved dive known for its unpretentious attitude, a great rooftop, and games that keep the night interesting. When it comes to the beer and shot combo, “Red Derby does it better than anybody,” says Kingfisher co-owner Daniel Williams. “There’s no frills, so it’s just a nice place to go and relax. They’ve been doing a beer and shot combo longer than anybody else I can think of.”
Red Derby has three options to choose from depending on your liquor of choice — the 14th and Quincy for $8 involves a deadly, hipster combo of PBR and a Fireball shot, while the Dos Hombres, a shot of tequila and a Tecate, could definitely get your night started out on the right foot and only sets you back $6.50. Feeling weird? Why not say screw it and try their third option: Bud pony and a shot of Fernet for $8.
Whether you’re going to Showtime Lounge in Bloomingdale for a dirt cheap Natty Boh or to see Granny and the Boys, the bar’s popular house band fronted by an over 80-year-old grandmother, you’re bound to have a great time. Queue up your favorite tune on their free jukebox and then head to the bar to knock back a Comb’oh—a shot of whiskey and a can of Natty Boh to wash it down with for only $5. Tack an extra dollar on and you could get a tequila and Tecate. Just don’t forget to bring the 20 dollar bill you found in your jeans the other day, as Showtime doesn’t accept credit cards.
In need of some hair of the dog? Check out the Royal in Le Droit Park, an all-day cafe and bar that’s just as good for inventive coffee beverages in the afternoon as a cocktail and arepa-filled dinner. Their “AM Boilermaker” special for $11 includes a unique pairing of a house Irish cream liqueur shot and a nitro cold brew. Basically, the best way to get your Sunday morning started on the right foot.
Soccer fans—this is the one for you. The Airedale is a mere block away from Red Derby, if you’d like to make a day of it, and serves as the perfect spot for a casual day drink. It’s open for every single Premiere League and Champions League soccer game, even the early morning ones. After cheering on your favorite team make your way to their beer garden to celebrate (or mourn) and then finish your experience off with a trusty beer and shot combo. Their iteration is pretty classic—a shot of Old Overholt rye and a can of draft lager, or you can switch it up a bit with some El Jimador and a DC Brau Pilsner.
We can’t think of a better way to pregame a show at the 930 Club than with a fried chicken sandwich in our hands and a beer and shot combo on the way, which is why Roy Boys was such a welcome addition to the Atlantic Plumbing Building in Shaw earlier this year. They offer a ‘kick n’ the door’ combo of a 7 oz Coronita and a shot of whiskey for $8.
A cocktail bar with a beautiful backyard wine garden may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about where to get your next Boilermaker, but this is a unique case. Dos Mamis is the latest addition to the now-thriving Petworth bar scene, a brightly colored neighborhood bar where co-owner Carlie Steiner is seeking to remove the pretension from cocktails and wine. Their off-menu beer and a shot combo is on brand with Steiner’s unique flavor pairings—a shot of aged pineapple rum with hard cider she calls the “Right Cider of History” for $10.
A “no bullshit” cocktail bar in Shaw, The Passenger serves up custom cocktails and chartreuse on tap, but don’t let that distract you from the task at hand—ordering a beer and shot combo. They’ve got two options at $9 each, the “Classic Combo” of Old Overholt rye and a Busch, or the “Landing Strip Combo” which is exactly the same thing as the classic, but with a Busch Light for if you’re watching your figure.
Jack Rose in Adams Morgan is a whiskey-lover’s dream, with the largest collection of whiskey in the Western Hemisphere. Stating the obvious—this isn’t the kind of place where you’d be getting a traditional rail whiskey and a lager. Stop by for their house pairing called the “Harvey Fry,” where a 12 ounce IPA of the day goes hand-in-hand with a shot of Islay cask strength scotch for $14.
This stylish, modern American restaurant can be found downtown in the Eaton Hotel—an ode to chef Tim Ma’s experiences growing up as a second generation American. Their classic beer and a shot combo of rye whiskey and a Natty Boh for $8 is actually Ma’s personal favorite order, and only available on a late night menu it shares with tempting dishes such as Asian Poutine and Steak & Cheese.
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