Boulevardier is a French word for a bon vivant. In its most original sense, the term "Boulevardier" describes a man who walks around the boulevards of Paris. It refers to a man about town, someone knowledgeable about the city he lives in and only frequents the most fashionable (Parisian) restaurants, cafés, and bars.
Who invented the Boulevardier?
Carrying such a thoroughly Parisian name, it's no wonder the Boulevardier Cocktail got invented right there, in the capital of France.
Back in the roaring 1920s, Erskine Gwynne mixed it up for the first time. -Gwynne actually is a Parisian publisher and editor who also founded the French magazine with the name Boulevardier.
He later moved to New York, where he met the renowned Scottish-born bartender Harry MacElhone. MacElhone made the Boulevardier world-famous when he included in his book "Barflies and Cocktails."
The ingredients of a Boulevardier cocktail are pretty similar to a Negroni. Yet, these two drinks couldn't taste more different.
How to make a Boulevardier Cocktail
The Boulevardier is a stirred drink based on Whiskey. -As a general rule, cocktails containing only alcocholic components are stirred and not shaken.
While the Negroni usually consists of equal amounts of all ingredients, it's different for the Boulevardier. In a Boulevardier, you want to have a slightly higher amount of Whiskey to cut through the intense and heavy mix of Campari and Vermouth.
How much of a difference in ratios there is can vary. You can find recipes using 1.25 parts of Whiskey combined with 1 part Sweet Vermouth and 1 part Campari. But you will also come across recipes using two parts Whiskey but keeping the ratios for Vermouth and Campari.
My preferred ratio is 1.5 parts of Whiskey to 1 part Campari and 1 part Vermouth. That is enough Whiskey to cut through without overdosing on it. But don't be afraid of experimenting a bit to find the right balance for you.
Difference between Boulevardier and Negroni
Both cocktails are based on a vibrant mix of Sweet Vermouth and Campari. Those two ingredients bring in tons of flavor, bitterness, and sweetness.
Yet, when using Gin to make a classic Negroni, you get this beautifully crisp summer drink: Refreshing, sweet, bitter, and herbal. A great sip to relax after a long and hot summer afternoon.
It's interesting how, just by adding Whiskey instead of Gin, you get a completely different drink. It creates a rich and warming cocktail that feels more suitable for a rough and cold day in autumn or winter.
So, changing the spirit base definitely makes the Boulevardier different but by no means less delicious than his Italian Cousin.
The best Whiskey for a Boulevardier
As with every three-ingredient cocktail, quality is key. That's no different for the Boulevardier cocktail. So besides the beautiful herbal Campari, you want to use a quality Sweet Vermouth (my favorite is Antica Formula) and a great Whiskey.
Which type of Whiskey is up to the drinker, of course. So, if you have a favorite Whiskey that's not overly smoky, you can always use that. If you don't, I recommend using Bourbon.
The vanilla, oak, and caramel notes of the native American Whiskey is beautiful in a Boulevardier as it creates a rounder version of the drink. Rye Whiskey is also a good choice, which results in a slightly spicier version of the cocktail.
- 1.5 oz Bourbon
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 Twisted orange peel as garnish
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir until the drink is chilled.
- Strain the cocktail into a coupe or rocks glass over ice.
- Garnish the drink with a twisted orange peel.