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A boilermaker, also known as a depth charge, is a cocktail consisting of a shot of whiskey, or vodka, and a glass of beer. The whiskey and beer are both typically, though not necessarily, of American production, with an inexpensive bourbon or a Tennessee Whiskey favored for the shot, and a mass-market American Pilsner (Miller, Budweiser, etc.) for the beer. Traditionally, the shot and the beer are served separately, although they may also be mixed beforehand by the preparer.

There are at least three techniques for consuming a boilermaker:

  • First, the whiskey may be drunk at a go and chased immediately by the beer.
  • Second, the two may be mixed by pouring the shot into the beer--stirring is at the discretion of the drinker.
  • Last, the shot glass may be dropped into the beer from the surface just before drinking - this technique appears to be a comparatively recent innovation, and is also referred to as a depth charge in some circles.

Upon the shot glass striking the bottom of the mug, the carbonation in the beer begins to violently fizz, requiring the drinker to immediately consume the entire drink, either leaving the shot glass in the mug, or grasping it with the lips when setting down the mug.

The name Depth Charge is also occasionally applied to other concoctions that involve dropping a shot glass into a larger drink, as well as a number of more ordinary mixed drinks. The experimenter is warned that the shot glass can pose a considerable danger to the front teeth.

A Depth Charge is a drink popular among Naval personnel, particularly those in or associated with the U.S. Naval submarine service.

Bartending guides differ on the preferred technique, but all agree that speed is the essence of this drink: one aims to drink a boilermaker quickly, and get drunk just as quickly.

Popular legend has it that the boilermaker was G.W. Bush's signature drink in his younger years.

See also: List of cocktails