The Boulevardier cocktail, made with bourbon and Campari, has a smooth, smooth taste and a storied history. You’re not going to want to miss either.
Boulevardier. The very word sounds sorta regal, yes? Sorta conjures images of turn-of-the-20th-century Paris in the rain, yes? And it certainly tastes more than a little regal and rainy day-ish with its overtones of woodsiness and bitter and balance of dry and sweet. It’s essentially a Negroni made with smooth bourbon rather than gin. And it comes together with exceptionally readily available ingredients. Excuse us while we go pour ourselves another.–Renee Schettler Rossi
How did the Boulevardier get its name?
The authors of this recipe explains that this “mahogany sipper” boasts notes of “candied nuts and cigar.” They also explain that it was the drink of Alfred Vanderbilt’s nephew, Erskine Gwynne, who was the editor of the Parisian magazine, The Boulevardier. It’s an update of a drink called the Old Pal, replacing that cocktail’s rye whiskey and dry vermouth with bourbon and sweet vermouth. For a modern palate, we like to up the whiskey ratio a bit to let the bourbon shine. Dark and smooth, this is a stunning drink with well-balanced notes of grapefruit, wood, and caramelized sugar.”
- 2 ounces bourbon (preferably Buffalo Trace or Four Roses)
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica)
- Orange twist for garnish
- Stir the bourbon, Campari, and vermouth together in a tall glass with ice and strain it into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with an orange twist.
- Before you’re finished, make yourself another.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This Boulevardier is a new cocktail to add to your repertoire. A sophisticated sipper with a bitter earthiness that’s balanced with a little sweetness. The recipe is simple and straightforward with ingredients that aren’t too expensive and probably won’t be collecting dust on your bar cart. The author’s mention of the original cocktail, the Old Pal, really made me want to try it so as to see which I like better. I think I could do with a little less sweet and more bourbon if I were to change anything. It’s a pretty strong drink so a splash of club soda or tonic may help along those who are a little more faint at heart.
I really enjoyed this rich, bitter bourbon drink. It’s beautifully hued thanks to the addition of both sweet vermouth and bitter orange Campari, not to mention the simple orange twist floating in the sea of red—such a lovely splash of color. I adore a classic Negroni cocktail which is similar to this except it uses gin instead of sweet bourbon. The taste of bourbon is understated in this drink, but it does pack a punch once you finish it! This is a lovely bourbon drink that every Manhattan fan should try–every bourbon fan should try it as well.
Not only is this Boulevardier a pretty drink with a color like caramelized coral, the combination of bitter and sweet it just about perfect. A nice, generous swath of orange peeled over the drink made the orange a prominent presence. As a matter of personal preference, you might even add a dash of Peychaud’s or Angostura bitters and make giant ice cubes to help you savor this serious drink a little longer.
What a pretty drink! This Boulevardier is rosy from the Campari and sweet vermouth with the bright orange twist setting the colors off. It’s one smooth and sophisticated cocktail. The Campari brings a little bitterness and balances the sweetness of the bourbon and the vermouth. I’m not a gin fan so a Negroni (basically the same cocktail but using gin instead of bourbon) has never been a favorite of mine, but swapping out the gin for bourbon makes this nothing short of spectacular. If you like Campari, you’ll love this.
The bourbon, dry vermouth, and Campari sounded very interesting. I love bourbon and the sweetness of the vermouth and the bitter Campari worked well together. Sometimes Campari can be a bit too much, but tempered by the bourbon and vermouth and the extra hard twist that I gave the orange peel, it was nice.
Originally published August 10, 2017