There’s a tradition in the service industry that many bartenders know. When they are done with their shift for the night, it’s common practice to go to a corner bar and order a shot (typically whiskey) and a beer. The pairing is called a Boilermaker.
But the team at Bookmakers Cocktail Club decided to dedicate an entire bar to the ritual. The result is Boiler Room (27 E. Cross St., 410-617-0391), a barcade-style establishment with an entire menu of shot-and-beer pairings. At the helm is bar manager Cortland Leggio, whose fun-loving personality is evidenced in the colorful chalk art, various video games, and even the bathrooms—which have doors marked with Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man.
The second floor is where most of the games are on display, everything from Skeeball and pinball (the Game of Thrones-themed pinball machine is a favorite) to basketball and, for Atari nerds, the original Space Invaders video game.
Downstairs is bright and airy with sliding doors that are generally open in the warmer months. The bar’s chalkboard menu features rotating cocktail specials and a menu of the shot/beer selections. On a fall visit, we went with Boiler Room’s pairing of a house-made cinnamon whiskey and a Union Foxy Red IPA. The initial spice of the shot is chased perfectly by the piney and fruity notes of the beer. Another smart pairing is the citrusy and sweet Yellow Chartreuse backed by an Allagash White.
And there’s always the old standby of a Pikesville Rye and Natty Boh, which, let’s be honest, is what most of those thirsty bartenders are craving anyway.
What’s In A Name? There are many stories about how the Boilermaker got its name. One theory is that it takes its name from the boilermakers who built and maintained steam locomotives in the 1800s. At the end of their shift, these workers would head to the bar and kick back a shot of whiskey and a beer.