The Boulevardier is an interesting little drink that’s almost as old as the Negroni and the Manhattan, but definitely not as popular. However, we don’t think it deserves to wallow in obscurity, so the next time you’re looking for something a bit different, try introducing this simple cocktail into your usual rotation.
Toby Ceccini, of the New York Times Style Magazine, has the short but sweet history of this eloquently-named cocktail. It was originally mentioned in 1927’s Barflies and Cocktails, but interestingly it was only alluded to in passing at the end of the book, not as an actual listed cocktail. The anecdote mentions a young man in Paris introducing the author to a cocktail called The Boulevardier, named after the small literary magazine that he owned. Must’ve been fun to be a rich American in Paris in the 20’s…
1 ½ oz rye or bourbon
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice. Stir well for 15-30 seconds and strain into a coupe. Alternatively, add all ingredients directly into a short glass and stir with ice for a cocktail on the rocks. Garnish with an orange peel.
The original story has the ingredients listed in the same proportions as the Negroni; namely equal parts whiskey (Canadian Club is mentioned explicitly and that’s the 100% rye we used for the photos), Campari, and vermouth, but most places (including yours truly) prefer the proportions mentioned above, allowing the unique flavour of the rye to come through over the Campari. Feel free to add a few dashes of orange bitters, if the mood strikes.
If you want something a bit different, simply sub the sweet vermouth for dry, and it becomes an Old Pal cocktail. Or, maybe you want to get really crazy? Alright, time to start fooling around with the Campari. If you want a similar bitter profile, we recommend trying a ½ oz of Campari and a ½ oz of Amaro, but any other bitter liquor will be fun too. If you want to reduce the bitter aspects, try swapping the Campari with Aperol (fun sidenote: it’s actually just as bitter as Campari, but the reduced alcohol by volume makes it taste sweeter).
So how do you like it? What’s your favourite customization? Have we made this the best Friday of your life by introducing you to this new-old cocktail? We’re assuming that last one will be a yes, but we’d still love to hear from you in the comments below!