It’s one of those stories that could only happen in Boston. And let’s face it – only in Southie.
On a frigid January night in 1887, a South Boston iron foundry caught fire. While waiting for the fire department to arrive, a local chap by the name of Tommy Maguire took it upon himself to locate a ladder, climb to the roof of the building, and fight the fire.
With his fists.
Although the authorities were unimpressed with Maguire’s efforts – they arrested him – his heroics made him something of a Boston folk hero. And the building he tried to save? It now houses GrandTen Distilling, which this past Tuesday observed the bizarre episode with a special event its Dorchester Ave bar and distillery.
Fire Puncher Day
The first official Fire Puncher Day to be celebrated in GrandTen’s bar featured cocktails, music, food, and more. At the center of it all was the pair of spicy spirits that honor the barehanded amateur fireman who once risked life, limb, and third-degree burns to save the building.
GTD’s Fire Puncher vodka is made with organic chipotle peppers from a Massachusetts farm. Its limited-edition cousin, Fire Puncher Black, is infused with cocoa nibs from Somerville’s Taza Chocolate.
Both spirits factored prominently in a special menu of fiery drinks. The Rockne Ave balanced sweetness and heat with Fire Puncher Black, honey, and walnut bitters.
Oh Mai Roa Ai!!, a riff on a Mai Tai, was made with Fire Puncher, house curacao, lime, and orgeat syrup.
“Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” was aptly named, with sour, smoky notes from lapsang honey, Fire Puncher vodka, cranberry, and demerara syrup.
And every person who ordered the Wowie Cacawie seemed to delight in saying (and repeating) the name. Featuring Fire Puncher Black, xocolatl mole bitters, and cola, it had bold notes of chocolate and a smoky bitterness.
Fire and Smoke
Cocktails weren’t the only nod to Tommy Maguire’s heroics. South Boston’s KO Pies served up two varieties of meat pies – “smoky” or “hot.”
Boston Cigar Company spent the evening rolling cigars by hand.
These Wild Plains is a local band that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t sing about fire or smoke. Awwwwkwaaard.
But when they weren’t playing, guests were treated to a cleverly curated playlist of songs about smoke, fire, or heat (think Light My Fire, Heat of the Moment, Ring of Fire, and many, many more).
The only thing missing was a reenactment of a well-meaning but probably insane man trying to extinguish a fire with his fists. Maybe next year.
And while it wasn’t part of the featured drink list or the incendiary theme, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention GrandTen’s very small batch of single malt whiskey. A mere 60 bottles exist, and they aren’t for sale; the whiskey is only available only by the glass at the bar. It’s a smooth, rich whiskey with a bourbon-like sweetness.
If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you know I’ve been a big fan of GrandTen since their earliest days. That said, it’s such a pleasure to them continue to grow – from expanding their product line to opening an on-site bar to hosting irreverent events like Fire Puncher Day. I’m excited to see what else they’ve got in store for the rest of 2017.
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