This week is another very classic cocktail. One could easily argue that the Boulevardier is a simple “whiskey” variant on the Negroni. The substitution is simple in preparation but changes the cocktail completely, as attested by Paul Clarke in Serious Eats:
The bittersweet interplay between Campari and vermouth remains, but the whiskey changes the storyline. Where the Negroni is crisp and lean, the Boulevardier is rich and intriguing.
I couldn’t agree more! (Though I find I rarely disagree with Paul Clarke on anything cocktail related…) The whiskey in this drink makes this drink more rounded, with a heavier weight on the palate.
This recipe was first published in “Barflies and Cocktails” by Harry McElhone, and became almost unknown in the intervening years before reappearing with the modern craft cocktail movement. And thank goodness it did!
I like to use Rye Whiskey in my Boulevardier recipe as I feel like it amplifies the bitterness of the Campari slightly, holding it up against the sweetness of the grain and oak.
While the garnish is optional, I won’t bother making this drink without an orange peel – expressing the oil across the top adds a whole additional layer of aroma and complexity which really makes the drink shine.
The “traditional” Boulevardier recipe is a 1-1-1 drink, but I think it deserves a bit of tweaking with these particular ingredients: namely, I’ve used a bit less Carpano Antica as I feel it’s on the denser / sweeter end of Sweet Vermouths.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a drink to finish! (and perhaps make another…)
- 1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey We used Bulleit Rye
- 1 oz Campari
- 3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth We used Carpano Antica
- Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice
- Stir well to dilute and chill.
- Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel, expressing the oils across the top of the cocktail first.
The Boulevardier is a cracking drink, though for me it should be enjoyed as a classic negroni: on the rocks.
For a great variation, try swapping the Campari for Aperol, it really compliments the warmth of the whiskey. If that ends up not bitter enough, try swapping the vermouth for Punt e Mes, which replaces some of the bite. I made this concoction once and finally added a single drop of Fernet Branca and the whole thing really came alive!
Like it’s daddy, the negroni, the boulevardier is a great drink ripe for experimentation.
Aged version is simply fantastic.
Im looking to put a cocktail in an oak barrel that we have used twice before, would this be a good one? The last was a negroni and it is holding water now, it wont impart a significant amount of oak anymore im sure.
I would say you still have lots of life left in that barrel – Chris told me he feels the sweet spot for barrels he’s used in the past is around the 5-6th time he’s used them. So you will still get a good amount of oak for a while yet. Each time you use it, plan to slightly increase the time you leave the spirit in the barrel. The most times Chris has used a barrel was between 12-15 times, depending on the barrel. (So you have loads of uses left!)