If you’re a fan of the Negroni, you’ll love the Boulevardier. It’s just as solid and nuanced but better. As a member of the equal-part cocktail family, in which you add the ingredients in the same proportion, the Boulevardier is perfect for beginner drink mixers, but don’t think for a second this one is not a sophisticated classic — it is.
The Boulevardier is a Parisian drink with an American flare, and it goes back for nearly 100 years. It’s astounding to see how popular the drink still is, and it will forever be — it’s delicious and hard not to love!
History of the Boulevardier Cocktail
The Boulevardier looks very much like the super-famous Negroni, but it’s actually older than the acclaimed Italian drink. Like many popular cocktails, the Boulevardier has its origins in Paris, 1927, and was created in the cocktail powerhouse known as Harry’s, founded by American bartender extraordinaire Harry McElhone.
Harry had moved as far as possible from the Prohibition laws in America and found in Paris the perfect spot to create fabulous concoctions with American innovation and European ingredients.
The Boulevardier was named after a Parisian newspaper, also run by Americans — the owner loved the drink. And once Prohibition was over, the drink returned home to become one of the best lesser-known cocktails in history.
Anyone can tell you a Boulevardier is a Negroni (Gin-Campari-Sweet Vermouth) with Bourbon instead of Gin, all in equal parts. Although they would be correct, the Boulevardier predates the Negroni for twenty years, so this is no copycat — it’s the real deal.
You’ll need a proper bourbon or rye whiskey; this is the more vital spirit in the mix. You’ll also need the Italian amaro called Campari, which is pleasantly bitter and citrusy. Finally, there’s the Sweet Vermouth, an aromatized and fortified red wine. Who said great cocktails were complicated? Well, the Boulevardier is proof that they’re not!
Variations and Substitutions
Substitute bourbon for your favorite gin, and you’ve got yourself a Negroni. That’s an easy variation, but there’s more.
There’s an exciting variation out there called La Rosita, and it substitutes bourbon with Tequila Blanco and sweet vermouth for a dry version, then you add the Campari. It works!
Other talented bartenders go as far as adding a splash of Modena balsamic vinegar to their Boulevardier, while others just add a few drops of orange bitters. There’s plenty of room for experimentation here, so why not try making your own version of the famous Boulevardier? What’s the worst thing that could happen?
- Mixing glass
- Bar spoon
- Rocks glass
- 1 ounce bourbon (or rye)
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- Orange peel for garnish
- In the mixing glass filled with ice, pour the bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth.
- Stir with the bar spoon for 10 seconds.
- Fill a rocks glass with fresh ice and pour the cocktail through the strainer.
- Garnish by twisting the orange peel over the cocktail and throwing it in.