By Leo Schmid / Photo by Kristina Yamamoto
'Twas a cold Christmas night in 1801 (as legend has it), when all through the tavern, Richard Trevithick and his friends were... drinking. The crew was out for an evening in Cornwall, England, celebrating Trevithick's invention, a steam-powered vehicle, which had successfully climbed a hill.
After throwing back maybe a few too many whiskey-and-beer combos, the guys returned from the pub to check on their modern machine and discovered, to their blurryeyed dismay, the vehicle had been reduced to ashes. Amid the day's excitement, the jolly Englishmen had neglected to extinguish the fire in the machine's boiler before going to get hammered. When it ran out of water, the whole machine went up in flames.
The silver lining? Out of that regrettable night of drinking, it is said, the boilermaker was born, although "boilerdestroyer" might have been a more accurate moniker.
A boilermaker is a "drop-shot" - in this case, a shot of whiskey dropped into a pint of beer, which is then chugged. The ill-fated mix eventually spread across the industrialized world, giving blue-collar steel and railroad workers a great way to relax after a long day.
In addition to keeping the working class pickled, the boilermaker has paved the way for a panoply of newer drop-shots, including the classic Sake Bomb (sake in beer), the universally loved Jäger Bomb (a shot of Jägermeister in a glass of Red Bull) and the as-dangerous-as-itsounds Flaming Dr. Pepper: a shot of Amaretto and Bacardi 151 lit on fire and dropped into a beer.
Where to get your hands on the latest drop-shots
Downtown's popular RA Sushi has released a new menu of signature drop-shots, including fresh takes on the traditional Sake Bomb, where a shot of sake is balanced on two chopsticks sitting on a half-pint of beer. To activate the drink, pound your fists on the table until the shot falls into the glass, and then slam it (the drink, not the glass). Gaslamp newcomer Kamikaze Seven is also dropping bombs (see menu below).
474 Broadway, Gaslamp
USA Bomb: shot of Jack Daniels in Budweiser
Fuji Bomb: shot of apple sake in Kirin beer
Fire Bomb: shot of Fireball cinnamon whiskey in Angry Orchard apple cider
Chocolate Cherry Bomb: shots of cherry vodka and Godiva chocolate liqueur in stout beer
411 Market St., Gaslamp
Lost in Translation: shot of Suntory Time whiskey in Orion beer
Black Magic: shot of espresso in Sapporo beer
Shogun: shot of Shochu (Japanese vodka) in Sapporo beer
Pearl Harbor: shot of Nigori unfiltered sake in Sapporo beer
Uni Bomber: quail egg in shot of cold sake topped with uni (sea urchin), dropped in Sapporo beer