After getting off work one night, the bartenders and staff at Bookmakers went out for a shot-and-a-beer nightcap, as those in the service industry are wont to do.
"We thought, let's take that shot-and-beer concept and run with it," says bartender Cortland Leggio. "It's been done in other cities. We want to take the Bookmakers quality and combine it with the feel of a laid-back, neighborhood bar."
Thus, the idea for Boiler Room was born. The team behind Bookmakers, including bar manager Ryan Sparks and executive chef Nelson Morton, designed a menu based around pairing unique spirits with craft beer, as well as approachable pub grub. The space—currently open Tuesday-Thursday 3 p.m.-1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday noon-1 a.m. and celebrating a grand opening party in February—is just two doors down from Bookmakers at 27 E. Cross Street in Federal Hill.
"Basically, we want to bridge the gap between neighborhood sports bar and something a bit fancier, like a Bookmakers or Sobo Cafe," says Leggio, Boiler Room's bar manager. "On the one hand, we'll have spirits that people may not have heard of, but they can still get a Fireball and Miller Lite if they want."
The beer-and-shot menu certainly reflects that wide range, with everything from a shot of Old Grand-Dad whiskey and a Miller High Life ($5) to pairing Yellow Chartreuse with Allagash White ($12). In all, there will be more than 10 pairings, as well as custom-made house shots (think mini cocktails) available on the menu. The food program will reflect the casual atmosphere as well, with an emphasis on pub grub like pierogi and hot dog options.
Boiler Room's atmosphere leans toward more sports bar with old-school arcade games (like original Space Invaders!), Skee-Ball, basketball hoop, and claw machine. Future plans include a dedicated industry night, burger night, and specials during Orioles games.
"Even though it was a bit different of a concept, Federal Hill has really embraced Bookmakers," Leggio says. "Now Boiler Room really wants to embrace the neighborhood back by creating a fun bar where everyone will feel comfortable."