Tasting Room at Bully Boy Distillers

By Catherine Smart   Cocktail Bar · $$

“We definitely make people work to find our space a little bit,” says Alex Koblan, bar manager of Tasting Room at Bully Boy Distillers. She’s not kidding. Whizzing past warehouses in Roxbury’s industrial Newmarket district, you might wonder where exactly the Lyft driver is taking you. Bully Boy takes the modern speakeasy concept to new heights—but the payoff is worth it. You’re in the right place when you see the entrance stamped 44, and an interior door marked with the chemical equation for turning sugar into alcohol.

The plush, dimly lit cocktail lounge is all dark wood, crushed velvet, and rich floral wallpaper. Its 26 seats look into the handsome distillery, which produces three rums, two whiskeys, two gins and vodka, plus one bottled cocktail.

Because Tasting Room holds a Farm Distillery License, any alcohol passed across the bar must be made on premise. Koblan says these “golden-handcuffs” spur constant innovation. “We kind of take that to an extreme, and we do all of the bitters, syrups juices, tonics, and as many of the things that we can here in house,” she says. “It’s certainly a labor of love.”

The menu changes seasonally, and a visit during the crest of strawberry season yields the sweet, summery Carow’s Cup on draft: American Straight Whiskey, house-hopped Amaro, grapefruit tonic, strawberry rhubarb pie syrup, honey syrup, lemon juice, acid phosphate, and muddled strawberries and cucumbers. It could be the official drink of July Fourth.

Koblan also offers tasting flights with variations on a theme, like Moscow Mule, to push your palate beyond the expected. “We are always infusing something at the bar,” she says, adding that of the two draft cocktails, one offer is on constant rotation. “Every time you come in, you can have something new.”

The $10 public tours, which run Friday through Sunday, offer insight into Bully Boy’s process, a history lesson on drinking and distilling in Boston, and a few product samples.

Tasting Room doesn’t take cash, so be sure to bring plastic.

Planning a party or networking event? The private events room (which opens for tours and overflow on particularly busy days) is stunning. Sip craft cocktails under candelabra chandeliers surrounded by barrels full of aging spirits.

Must Haves

  • This constantly rotating offering (on a recent night, a Boston Rum Old Fashioned made with muscovado sugar, marasca syrup, and Angostura bitters), also comes in half pitchers, so it’s great for a group.

  • A mix of rums, grapefruit tonic, lime, and pineapple, this sipper is refreshing, tropical, and timeless.

  • An herbaceous blend of rosemary-infused vodka, smoked tarragon simple syrup, lemon juice, house-hopped Amaro, and muddled sage and tarragon.

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