In the years since Bully Boy Distillers opened up shop in 2011, they’ve become one of the most recognizable brands in Boston, their spirits featuring in cocktails at top bars throughout the city. Tonight Bully Boy takes the next step in its evolution when it officially opens its new facility, complete with a tasting room where guests can order cocktails made with spirits distilled on site.
Housed in a nondescript brick building in Roxbury, right across the street from their original facility, Bully Boy’s new space has a bit of a speakeasy feel. There’s no signage outside, just a street address on the door. Inside, the tasting room is dark, cozy, and handsomely appointed. A small bar overlooks the production floor, giving drinkers a clear view of gleaming new column still and huge fermenters.
Connecting the tasting room and the production floor is the barrel room, where the nearly finished spirits age and await bottling.
Neat and stylish, the new space stands in contrast to its more humble predecessor. The distillery where brothers and co-owners Will and Dave Willis first started making their white whiskey was strictly functional – white walls, harsh lighting, tubes and hoses strewn about. Not an inch of space was unused or unaccounted for.
The new place is warm and inviting but still maintains something of a factory feel, which makes sense – it was apparently an industrial laundry facility in an earlier life. The biggest change, of course, is that Bully Boy can now serve cocktails on the premises.
Local regulations limit Bully Boy to only serving drinks using products made on site. So if a drink calls for an amaro or vermouth, Will and Dave need to create those mixers instead of buying them.
The result is a cocktail program that is dynamic by necessity. Bully Boy’s bartender, Alex Koblan, has designed a contemporary menu with innovative twists on the classics along with fresh, original concoctions.
Teddie’s Peanut Butter Dream is like peanut butter ice cream rendered in a cocktail. Made with Bully Boy white rum, Teddie Peanut Butter fat-washed Boston rum, simple syrup, heavy cream, egg white, and a “heaping spoonful” of locally made Teddie Peanut Butter, it’s a dessert-type drink that isn’t too rich or heavy.
The classic Brown Derby combines American straight whiskey, Boston Honey Company syrup, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and a pinch of salt.
There are also barrel-aged and draft cocktails to choose from. Poured straight from a barrel suspended above the bar is the delicious Boston Rum Old Fashioned, made with Boston rum, muscovado syrup, and Angostura bitters.
On draft, the Planter’s Punch is a fresh take on an oft-bastardized drink. Combining white and Boston rums, house-made grenadine, simple syrup, orange and pineapple juice, and Angostura bitters, it’s bright and drinkable instead of sickly sweet.
There’s also a selection of cocktail flights, daiquiris, spirit flights, and even mocktails.
It’s always gratifying to see a small, local company grow and expand, and this new distillery is a tribute to Bully Boy’s ongoing success. The doors open tonight, and the tasting room will be open Thursdays through Sundays. Check the website for hours and tour info.
Address: 44 Cedric Street, Boston
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